At its recent meeting here, members of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) welcomed Dee Sanchez from Redeemer Presbyterian Church representing Aereodance and Esther Reyes, Salvador Martinez, and Dianna Tavera from the Human Rights Promoter Project to report on their organizations progress after receiving SDOP grants.

SDOP enables members and non-members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to form partnerships with economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people in order to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

Ms. Sanchez thanked the Committee for assisting the Aerodance group of women in their desire to come together for exercise and dance. To many, coming together for exercise and dance may seem frivolous, she said.  But for this group of Latina women ― many first generation ― it is a time of fellowship, leadership training and esteem-building. 

In short, Sanchez said, “It is a life line.” 

During SDOP’s partnership with Aerodance, more than 150 women registered to participate in weekly workshops on spiritual, emotional and physical health. Aerodance also brought a mobil “mammogram bus” to the neighborhood for screenings. Sanchez said participants reported that they are now able to have open conversations with their partners about what it means to have healthy relationships and unhealthy attachments. 

Six years after the funding the group is still functioning.  Other participants could not attend the meeting because they were all involved in a fundraiser ― selling lunches ― for one of their members who had recently had her electricity turned off.  Before Ms. Sanchez left, members of SDOP  contributed $253, $3 more than what was needed to have the electricity restored.

Representatives  from the Human Rights Promoter Project talked about human right abuses in and around Austin, Texas, and how they are organizing to address these abuses.

The project is designed to reach, educate, and mobilize the immigrant community, empowering them to become community leaders.  Visit the SDOP web site to view a portion of the presentation.