It began with a text from Rev Mike Ballman of the Cornerstone Community Church after the Oneida County Executive closed the legal door to asylum seekers. Rev Karen wrote a press release under the guidance of Jerry Reed. Media arrived, photographed, asked great questions, and shared the story of 4 clergy responding with love, challenge, and collaboration.
We know systemic oppression has everywhere caused competition for resources among the Latina, Black, Indigenous, unhoused, and existing Utica Refugees so it was important to make sure our well-meaning response to asylum seekers did not intensify that ongoing oppression.
NAACP chapter president Freddie Hamilton, Mohawk Valley Latino Association Director Sonia Martinez, The Center Director Shelly Callahan and many community and clergy leaders will continue to work together to make recommendations to the County Executive and build our collective capacity to respond not only to asylum seekers but to all those in the county who are underserved and often demonized as they need jobs, housing and equitable access to all kinds of resources and services. We know that this collaboration is a critical aspect of what will be needed not only now, but even more so as climate change intensifies.
Currently this group meets twice a month at UUU and is co-facilitated by Rev Karen and leaders of marginalized communities.