Increased Interest in Volunteering Since the November Election

An article in Friday’s New York Times discusses the marked increase in volunteering, both nationally and in New York City, following the November election. A volunteer agency, New York Cares, reported a 137 percent increase in would-be volunteers the week after the election, compared with the same week in November 2015.

Nationally, the website VolunteerMatch reported an increase in activity from June 2016 to June 2017 of 7%, but of 199% in the “politics” category. Other categories with additional activity include crisis support advocacy, hunger, immigration, and veterans’ affairs. Sadly, in the “politics” category in Connecticut, there are listings for only two organizations with volunteer opportunities, and both are national rather than local.

Update on Action Together CT Meeting This Thursday

An update on Action Together CT’s July meeting, Thursday, July 20 at 7:00 pm at Mactivity, 285 Nicoll Street, New Haven. Its theme is Volunteers Make Communities Better.

This meeting will feature Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and Rep. Robyn Porter discussing what you role can play, the importance of local races, and the importance of connecting with voters. Nick Maroletti from Fight Back CT and Sarah Ganong from Working Families will also be on hand to provide hands-on volunteer training.

Investing in Local Affordable Housing and Energy Efficiency Upgrades

We tend to think that there are three ways we can make a difference in our communities:  volunteer, engage in activism, and make charitable contributions. There is a fourth way:  social impact investment. Community organizations through which one makes investments in underserved markets are known as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). And the principal CDFI in Connecticut, a recent coming together of CDFIs in New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford, is called Capital for Change.

Capital for Change lends money to Connecticut businesses for affordable housing and for the introduction of energy efficiency upgrades to multi-family dwellings.  With horrific incidents occurring all around the world, such as in London and Honolulu, it is evident that many older buildings that house lower-income families not only lack energy efficiency features, but do not even meet current safety codes. Those who invest through Capital for Change help address these problems.

Social impact investments do good while providing an income stream to the investor. An investor with Captial for Change can, however, choose to receive no interest or a rate lower than the maximum for the length of the investment. Choosing a lower rate is effectively a contribution to the organization.

Capital for Change is seeking investments of as little as $1,000 from individuals and from foundations, faith-based organizations, and other entities. It pays interest annually for these investments, with longer-term investments receiving more favorable interest rates. They are as follows:

1 to 2 year investments: 0 to 2.5%

3 to 7 year investments: 0 to 3.0%

7 to 10 year investments: 0 to 3.5%

10 plus years: 0 to 4%

Two Weekend Events Focusing on Compassion and Justice

This weekend, in Hamden and New Haven respectively, there will be two events focusing on compassion and justice.

On Saturday, July 22 is the Third Annual Compassionfest from 10-5 at Whitneyville Commons, 1253 Whitney Avenue in Hamden. The mission of this festival is “to unite like-minded people that believe in the values of being just, kindness, equality and compassion. We’ll gather for delicious vegan food and cruelty-free product providers, local artisans, inspiring performers, musical acts & healing workshops for all ages.” Admission is free. The rain date is Saturday, July 29.

On Sunday, July 23, from 12 to 4:30, is the MLK Sit-In in the grassy area on MLK Boulevard, across from the Sherman/Tyler Parking lot, near Ella T. Grasso Blvd. in New Haven. This is part of a nationwide event observed on streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr. to honor him and continue the fight against local, national, and international violence, hatred, and oppression against vulnerable communities.

There will be a large canvas where attendees can write and/or draw their vision of racial and social justice. Participants will be given the opportunity to make posters and peacefully display them in the area. There will also be racial and social justice organizations tabling, face-painting and artistic activities for children.

The schedule is:
• 12-2pm: Poster-making, art activities, tabling
• 2-4pm: Speakers, performers
• 4pm: Community Reading of excerpt from “I Have a Dream” speech
• 4:15pm: Wrap-up and Call for Action

Food Summit in Hartford on July 22

The Connecticut Food System Alliance (CFSA) is holding a Food Summit and Network Launch at 224 EcoSpace, 224 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm (registration begins at 9:30). This free event features speakers on a variety of food-related topics, including food access, farm viability, school curriculums, and food-related community organizing. The CFSA calls itself “a network of individuals, organizations, and institutions working towards a more just and equitable food system.”

Space is limited, so if you’re interested, register here. Questions may be directed to Meg at 860-296-9325 or CFSACoordinator@HartfordFood.org.

Sign or Start a Petition

Both Move On and Change.org have special sections where you can sign or start a petition, including those that involve local issues. Move On’s CT petition page is here, and its page for starting a petition is here. Change.org doesn’t let you choose the state, but you can search for Connecticut. Its page for starting a petition is here.

Move On puts its petition advice on a separate page (complete with a 23-minute audio on delivering one’s petition, the part that people sometimes fail to anticipate), while Change.org provides it where you answer the questions it asks in forming a petition. Both of their petition pages show some of the successes at least partially due to their petitions.

Help Build an “Urban Oasis” in Fair Haven This Friday After Work

The Chatham Square Neighborhood Association and the Urban Resources Initiative are leading a project to beautify a main entrance to Fair Haven, near the Middletown Avenue Bridge underpass and Dover Beach, on Front Street. The project involves planting flowers, shrubs, and trees. Already, an artist put colorful images on the bridge’s columns, and the state put in a new fence.

Volunteers meet and work together from 5:00 to 7:00 pm this Friday, and further Fridays through the summer.