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Building community, sharing hope, and standing for justice since 2004

ESTHER Publishes Statement of Witness

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Statement As PublishedThis Is a Time that Tries Our Souls….

In the light of concerns about the climate of religious and racial prejudice and harrassment growing out of the Presidential election, the ESTHER Leadership Board, with support from ESTHER members and friends, adopted and published a statement of witness in the Appleton Post-Crescent on Sunday, December 4, 2016. The statement lifts up ESTHER’s hallmark values of inclusiveness, neighborliness, compassion, fair treatment, commitment to community, and the practice of hope.

Thank you to the 207 members and friends of ESTHER who added their names and provided the financial support to make publication possible. Click on the image to read the statement as published.

ESTHER's 12th Annual Banquet - A Great Success

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Guests at 2016 BanquetMore than 200 people attended ESTHER’s 12th annual banquet on Sunday evening, November 13, making the event one of the largest in ESTHER history. Attendees included elected officials, faith leaders, community award recipients and their guests, WISDOM and ESTHER staff, and ESTHER members and friends from throughout the Fox Valley. At a time of great uncertainty and change in our nation and state, it was good to be together. It was also good to recommit ourselves to the values and hopes we share as we work together for a better future.

Support ESTHER through Alternative Gifts

package with red bowAre you a person who’s “hard to buy for” at holiday time or on birthdays or other special occasions? You already have all the shirts, ties, scarves, slippers, motorized shoe polishers or battery-powered wine openers you need. And you hate fruitcake.

More and more, people are turning to “alternative gifts” in situations like these.

ESTHER would love to be the recipient of alternative gifts made in your honor.

Getting Smart on Crime

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Learn about evidence-based practices in criminal justice.

Judge John Des JardinsMonday, December 5, 2016, 6:00 pm
Free admission; open to the public
St. Mark's Lutheran Church
140 South Green Bay Road
Neenah, WI

Come hear Circuit Court Judge John Des Jardins and Criminal Justice Treatment Services Director Bernie Vetrone explain Outagamie County’s Smart on Crime Initiative, one of only 25 such projects in the nation.

2016 Community Leader Award: Norys Piña

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Norys Pina

ESTHER awards its 2016 Community Award for an individual to Norys Piña for her work to improve the quality of life for immigrants throughout our community. She passionately educates immigrants about their rights and has formed a group, Unidos por un Futuro Mejor, to work for systemic change in our community, state, and nation. Her passion rises from her own story and that of those around her.

Norys advocated for driver’s cards for undocumented immigrants and quickly drew together funding and people to fill three buses to participate in a statewide “A Day Without Latinos” demonstration at the state capitol on February 18, 2016. She has been active in ESTHER’s Latino Simulations and Voices of Hope theatre productions. Most recently, Norys has organized a community-wide Latino Voter Engagement campaign.

When asked what sustains her work in ensuring rights for immigrants, Norys says, “I find hope and strength to keep fighting in the faces of my kids, in the stories of my friends, in the lives of all good people who deserve the opportunity to use their full potential, in the humanity in each of us crying out for equity. Just the thought of not fighting for our rights and keep silent scares me more than anything else.”

2016 Community Leader Award: Fit Oshkosh, Inc.

Fit Oshkosh Logo

In its 2016 Community Award for organizations, ESTHER honors the work of Fit Oshkosh, Inc., led by Co-Founder and Executive Director Tracey Robertson. Fit’s mission is to increase the racial literacy of the residents of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and beyond through workshops, training, consulting, advocacy and research. A few highlights of the work of Fit Oshkosh include hosting Color-Brave films and book-reads like the “I’m Not Racist. Am I?” documentary and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me. Fit has quickly become the resource for anti-racism work in the Valley and beyond.

Its Color-Brave Lending Library has more than 150 free games, books and movies for both kids and adults that deepen insights on race. Since its 2014 inception, Fit Oshkosh has trained nearly 3,000 people in settings including local government, educational institutions, faith groups, and non- and for-profit businesses. ESTHER thanks Fit Oshkosh Co-Founder and Executive Director Tracey Robertson, its program supporters, and its trained volunteers for their invaluable efforts in making our community a place where race matters to all citizens and where all people—no matter what their racial identity—truly “Fit” in.

Statement from ESTHER Religious Leaders Caucus

The ESTHER Religious Leaders Caucus met this morning, November 9, and agreed to issue the following statement regarding the anger, fear, tension and division that many people are feeling in light of our national elections:

Since ESTHER’s founding 12 years ago, we have been, and we intend to continue to be people of faith united by our passion for justice, commitment to community and a practice of hope. We stand together understanding that our lives and destinies are intertwined. We are committed to transforming our community by dissolving boundaries of race, creed, social and economic divides. We build power and act together, drawing courage and inspiration from our faith. We believe that God has called us to live, speak, and act courageously in accordance with our faith beliefs.

Introducing ESTHER's new organizer, Bill Van Lopik

Bill Van LopikESTHER's Leadership Board is proud to announce that Bill Van Lopik has been named our new Lead Organizer. Bill brings both vision and experience to his work with ESTHER. And, in the words of Fr. Joe Mattern, president of ESTHER, his “passion and commitment to doing justice for the poor promises to make a huge impact in the Fox Valley.”

We invite you to read Bill's own words explaining why this new work excites him and how he plans to approach being ESTHER's lead organizer:

… I have been so impressed with the history, mission and members of ESTHER who are committed to social justice and making our community an accepting place to live for all people. This is a movement that I am excited to be a part of and one that I feel that I can contribute to in a positive and substantive way. I come to this position with many experiences in my life that….

Building a Better Community Discussion - OSHKOSH - Potluck Supper

Date: 
Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Location: 
St. Andrew Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1100 Algoma Blvd., Oshkosh

Friends and family enjoying a meal togetherYou are invited to further explore Your Faith, Your Values, and What You’re Willing To Stand For. This is the third and concluding session of community discussions during 2016, led by ESTHER. (You’ll enjoy the event whether or not you were able to attend earlier sessions.)

Bring a dish to pass, and share dinner with the diverse Oshkosh community as we explore the many facets of individual beliefs.

Topics:

  • How does your faith manifest itself in your actions?
  • How do your values inform your choices?
  • What actions do you choose to grow yourself?
  • What responsibility do you have to family, friends, congregation and community?

For more information, contact Pastor Jewell at 920-235-6616

ESTHER's 12th Annual Banquet - November 13, 2016

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12th Anniversary Banquet: Speaking Truth to Power

Andy HallDee J. Hall

  • Sunday, November 13th - 5:00 PM
  • The Grand Meridian (2621 N. Oneida St.), Appleton
  • Keynote speakers: Dee J. Hall and Andy Hall, co-founders of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and WisconsinWatch.org

Join us for fellowship, a great silent auction, joyous music, a delicious meal, well deserved awards, and an altogether wonderful celebration.

Click here to download the banquet flyer.

Register Now

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