The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) has approved grants totaling $114,020 to eight communities in the United States and Belize. The money is from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, of which SDOP receives 32 percent of undesignated funds.

SDOP enables communities of oppressed and economically disadvantaged people achieve self-sufficiency. Grants were approved at a meeting of SDOP’s National Committee in Detroit May 15-17.

The projects and grants:

  • Sepa Mujer, Central Islip, New York — $15,000 to an advocacy and empowerment program providing bilingual leadership development for Latina women, especially those who have suffered violence at the hands of someone close to them.
  • Panhandle St. Mary Senior Citizen Group, Marianna, Florida — Organized by rural, low-income families, the project will allow group members to grow, harvest and sell vegetables to local residents and organizations. The project hopes to improve the lives of members as well as provide fresh produce for themselves and the community.
  • Cooperative & Cannery Initiative, Shannon, North Carolina — $20,000 for this economic development project that involves the production, canning and marketing of the produce grown by local farmers. .  
  • Oakland Avenue Community/Market Garden and Greenhouse Cooperative, Detroit — $14,000.  This group is considered a model for community group-owned urban agriculture in the Detroit area. This grant will make it possible for them to complete their commercial kitchen, which provides added value to the urban garden.
  • New Immigrant Community Empowerment, Jackson Heights, New York — $15,000 to enable this research project, which aims to identify and document wage standards, working conditions of day laborers, wage theft and low wages. The goal of this project is to identify and document wage standards, working conditions, wage theft and low wages at the local Parada (site where days laborers are picked up).
  • Freedom Farmers Market Cooperative, Oakland, California — $15,000 to support this cooperative, which brings together farmers and  food entrepreneurs in the heart of West Oakland’s food desert. They provide reasonably priced produce and products.
  • Maya Freshwater Cooperative, Cuxlin Ha Village near Punta Gorda, Belize — $19,200 to assist this rural Mayan community in building  a small grocery store that will double as a computer lab for the community. The building will also serve as a hurricane shelter.

Also at the Detroit meeting, SDOP members spoke with a panel of Presbyterian young adults about issues pertinent to Detroit. Local church leaders and members spoke with SDOP about how to reach congregations and interpret the SDOP ministry and the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.

National committee members also had an opportunity to learn about recently completed work by SDOP community partners Warriors on Wheels, Fair Chance and Cody Rouge Visionaries are currently engaged in. Several committee members also participated in an educational trip to local SDOP community partners Peaches & Greens and Oakland Avenue Farmers Market. Both groups are engaged in community gardening projects.

At this same meeting, the following officers were elected:

  • Chairperson: Selma Jackson
  • Vice chairperson: Rebecca Reyes

Task Forces:

  • Midwest: Sharon Ware
  • West: Joe Love Nelson