CCOP News

Director's Annual Report

Organizing Model

January 25, 2010

The Environment CCOP Finds Itself

Camden is in a unique position socially and politically.  Seven years into the MRERA legislation, a collection of successful projects and developments in key anchor institutions (i.e. Cooper Hospital, waterfront entertainment industry and green space, Campbell Soup headquarters, Rutgers University), a series of successful housing units led by local non-profit housing developers; and having just experienced an influential gubernatorial and mayoral election. 

Camden is on the road to redefining itself and the next 24 months will be crucial.  Where 5 years ago growth and rejuvenation were merely hopes and ideas, Camden's political leaders, businesses, faith institutions and residents are now seeing signs of change.  With this new point of view it becomes all the more important to have the very people who are the back bone of the city, the residents and churches, be at the decision tables.  Where all residents want to see the Camden of tomorrow, they also want to be included in that future.

This is the very point where the work of Camden Churches Organized People becomes all the more vital.  The very nature of CCOP is to build local organizing committees out of Camden residents and churches that have the capacity to build powerful relationships with key public and private officials, which creates the opportunity for change in the areas that most dramatically affect the lives of the families and neighborhoods.

Looking ahead at the next two years CCOP leaders are looking at a variety of issue areas, such as Housing, Public Safety, Healthcare, Jobs, and Education. Each of these areas plays a key role in the foundation of the city and is currently struggling and failing to meet the needs of the community.  Where CCOP has already had enormous success with projects in each of these areas, CCOP leaders will be working to have a larger more dynamic impact, by engaging more residents, aligning key city stakeholders and institutions, and ensuring that the execution of plans is done responsibly, transparently, and timely.

CCOP Internally

A year ago, at the end of the year Citywide Leadership Assembly, leaders decided to make 2009 "The Year of the Local Action."  This specific focus came from the desire to rebuild CCOP's local strength and leadership capacity.  At the same time, internally CCOP was experiencing its fair share of transition.  A new Executive Director was learning the ropes, a new staff organizer was hired, and several of the member churches where going through their own reconfiguration and transformation.  Despite the challenges and potential obstacles, CCOP has had a successful year and the seeds of growth are now beginning to blossom. 

The following report will look at some of those seeds and lift-up the successes and work accomplished by CCOP leaders (individually, locally, citywide, and nationally).   Where it is always good to celebrate our work, this is not by any means a curtain call, like the organizing principle states, "Power, use it or loose it."  Moving into 2010, CCOP has momentum from our election work, this momentum can not stop and must be continued locally and citywide.  There is a small window of opportunity when newly elected officials get into office, they are building their teams, setting goals, and getting to work.  If we are ready and able, we could potentially shape this conversation and define what real success and accountability look like. 

CCOP in Numbers

The following numbers are taken as of Thursday November 19, 2009.  These numbers are taken just from CCOP work during 2009!

  • 62 Articles on CCOP's Work (local, citywide, national): Sources Include: U.S.A Today; Philadelphia Inquirer; Courier Post; Catholic Star Herald; New Jersey Associated Press; The Daily News; and many more
  • 6 TV broadcasts of different events and local work: Sources: ABC Channel 6; NJN; Fox Channel 10; and others
  • 3 Radio Broadcasts of different events and local work: Sources: WHYY; KYW; WFUV in New York
  • 6 Research Actions per month: With such people as: Senator Menendez and staff; Congressman Pallone and staff; Congressman Andrews and staff; President Obama; Melody Barnes, US Director of Domestic Policy; Cathy Sibelius, US Secretary of Health and Human Services; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; Camden COO Albertha Hyche; Director of Code Enforcement; Director of Public Works; Chief of Police; Camden City Council Members; and many more.
  • 5 Local Actions: Concerning issues of: Public Safety; Voting; Immigrant safety; Abandoned houses; and Youth Resources
  • 3 Citywide Actions: Primary focus: City capacity to deliver basic neighborhood services to all of Camden
  • 5 leaders attended PICO National Leadership Training

CCOP LOCAL WORK

The following section lifts-up each active/developing LOC (local organizing committee) and highlights some of their work in 2009.  As organizers we understand that good organizing takes time and most of the real successes and accomplishments go unnoticed, so if your LOC is still growing, take heart and know that the intentional development of leaders will pay off with time.

Active LOC's - In alphabetical order

Camden Bible Tabernacle

  • First action in 10 years!
  • Developing quickly
  • 2 leaders attended National training
  • LOC has a set of leaders and showing signs of more
  • Issue work underway
  • Experienced Staff Transition
  • Leader rode the PICO Recovery Bus into Washington DC to push for financial recovery in the country

Cramer Hill - St. Anthony and Hope Memorial

  • Demolished 2 Abandoned Police Sub-Stations
  • Negotiated with the City and Camden Children's Garden to turn the vacant lot of the police trailers into a thriving community garden
  • Won the lien of an abandoned house next to the school (3 year project)
  • Cramer Hill- St. Anthony and Hope Memorial...continued
  • Ran and Named the Ugliest house of Cramer Hill - which next week the city will approve the demolition of due to our Action with Mayor Faison
  • Hosted the Citywide Mayoral Forum
  • 2 leaders rode the PICO Recovery Bus into Washington DC to push for financial recovery in the country
  • Shared a lead role with two other LOC's on the Youth Be My Vote Campaign of 2009

Fairview - St. Joan of Arc

  • Developing
  • Recent research action with Police Chief and 40+ residents
  • Good potential issue cuts
  • Looking to establish a core team who will build the LOC
  • 1 clergy attended PICO Clergy Caucus
  • Hosted internal one to one training course for church members
  • Hosted Phase III CHIP press conference

St. Andrew's Episcopal

  • Developing
  • First Action ever!
  • Good potential issue cuts
  • Looking to establish a core team who will build the LOC

St. Bartholomew's

  • First Action in 2009 of all CCOP on youth resources
  • Conducted close to 130 initial one to one's with residents
  • 1 leader attended National Training
  • 1 leader attended National Town Hall with President Obama
  • 1 leader attended PICO Board Training
  • 1 Clergy leader attended PICO Clergy Caucus
  • Shared a lead role with two other LOC's on the Youth Be My Vote Campaign of 2009
  • Team is beginning to show signs of growth and expansion
  • Experienced Staff Transition

St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral

  • Took a lead role in developing the 2009 Camden Recovery Survey
  • Hosted the Citywide Action with Governor Corzine
  • Hosted an immigration dialogue with City and County Stakeholders that focused on the needs of our Camden immigrant populations
  • Participated in the Healthcare Vigil outside of Senator Lautenberg's Office
  • Participated and gave personal testimony at the Cathedral Square Ground Breaking Event with Coopers Ferry and St. Joseph's Carpenter Society
  • Hosted Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. at a Press Conference on the steps of St. Joseph's Elementary School on Passing the SCHIP bill
  • Shared a lead role with two other LOC's on the Youth Be My Vote Campaign of 2009
  • Problem Solved with the Camden Police Department the shutting down of a local Drug Hot spot threatening our neighborhood
  • Began a resident & police training course around street level narcotics

Sword of the Spirit

  • Negotiated the extension of Kaighn Avenue into the Clean Streets Program run by the Greater Camden Partnership
  • Sent 1 leader to attend PICO National Leadership Training
  • Attended 3 PICO events at Washington DC around Healthcare, in particular leading a Legislative Briefing with key House Staff members
  • Won the removal/paint-over of key graffiti eye sores on Kaighn Avenue
  • Won the board-up of an abandoned building next to the church
  • Hosted the Citywide Action with now Governor Elect Chris Christie
  • Negotiated with PSEG the replacement of 17+ light posts in Gateway

Waterfront South - Sacred Heart

  • Won the verbal commitment from the city of Camden to bring new Playground equipment to the 4th Street Waterfront South Park
  • Negotiated with Public Works to begin replacing the missing fences at the 4th street Waterfront South Park
  • Negotiated with the Heart of Camden and the City to 1) Stabilize a drug alley on Emerald Street and 2) find a long term solution to block the drug traffic in this lot
  • Organized a handful of community building events for the neighborhood
  • Beautified Abandoned houses with guerilla poetry
  • Beautified two small city block green spaces

Developing and Interest - in alphabetical order

Bethel Deliverance

  • Series of one to one's exploring future organizing

Faith Tabernacle Church of the living God

  • Developing
  • Looking to establish a core team of leaders who will build the LOC
  • 1 leader attended National Training
  • 1 Clergy attended PICO Clergy Caucus

Grace Lutheran to connect with Camden Bible Tabernacle

  • Due to numbers feels a cluster will better suit the church
  • 1 clergy attended PICO national healthcare work

St. Augustine's Episcopal

  • Series of one to one's exploring future organizing

St. Paul's Episcopal

  • Series of one to one's exploring future organizing

CCOP Citywide Issue work

The following section looks more closely at the citywide work. In the past CCOP has had a strong tradition of powerful citywide organizing; however the work had stalled a bit.  Before the fall of 2009, the last citywide action campaign was with Attorney General Anne Milgram in the fall of 2007. 

This is not to say that work was not occurring.  Following this action, there was an enormous amount of follow-up that CCOP citywide took on.  This work however was eventually stalled out due to a massive restructuring of Camden's Police Department, leaving CCOP citywide as square one again with Public Safety. 

It was at this point that the Board and Citywide leadership assembly asked for the concerted effort and focus on developing our local work, which as you saw in the LOC reports was very much the focus of this past year.  As a result of this work CCOP Citywide was able to have 6 weeks of powerful organizing around the election.  This work allowed CCOP to reclaim its seat at the public table and has positioned the organization well for the New Year, provided we take the opportunity we created for ourselves.   

The following notes are some other facts of work this year in the areas of Housing and Healthcare.

Housing - Camden Home Improvement Program

  • CHIP Report
  • Phase 1 Completed with 127 homes!
  • Phase 2 Close to done
  • Phase 3 50% allocated already
  • What about a second round?

Healthcare - SCHIP and Healthcare Affordability work

  • Several Research and information sharing meetings
  • 1 prayer rally in connection with PICO National work
  • Opportunities exist locally and state wide, the question is do we have the capacity and will at this point

Election Work

  • 3 citywide Actions in 6 weeks
  • Turnout- low compared to CCOP's past citywide actions, however given the long time since the last action, the political environment around elections, and having limitations on what could be done at an action with political candidates, our turn was remarkable and a great start
  • We held the only free and public Mayoral Forum
  • And we mobilized 100+ people for Chris Christie
  • Camden Recovery Survey with 500+ participants (final study coming soon)

National - PICO

  • Healthcare, healthcare, healthcare
  • Huge win and involvement with SCHIP victory
  • Healthcare Bill was a long campaign
  • CCOP leaders played a key role in this work during 2009
  • Participated in the PICO Recovery Express - a campaign to bring awareness to Congress about the need for housing and finance reform through the story telling of people who were facing the crisis personally

Other CCOP Health Indicators and Reports

There are many health indicators that an organization can use to assess their strength and identify areas that need attention.  For a detailed analysis of an organization's health it is recommended by the PICO network to conduct a PICO assessment where a team of seasoned organizers travel to Camden and conduct a 3-4 day study.  Following this study a report is developed and a game plan developed.  The CCOP Board has asked that a PICO assessment take place early 2010, ideally in February.  You will all be asked to take part in this assessment. 

Until this assessment occurs, here are some preliminary studies of some key areas of your organization:

Finances and Fundraising

  • On average CCOP has had 5 ½ months of positive cash flow throughout 2009
  • 5-6 months is the minimum PICO suggests to have as a healthy organization, anything below becomes dangerous. The staff and Board can not rest at this point and fundraising needs to continue to be one of the major concerns.
  • Our annual budget is just around $300,000 with a full staff (1 Office Administrator, 1 Director, 2 staff organizers)
  • On average CCOP spends $24,000 a month
  • 2009 Annual Fundraiser collected a gross of $25,000, not too bad for tough economic year
  • Finance Committee has officially formed; the team will work with the Executive Director on areas of membership dues collection, individual donor development, and the next Annual Breakfast.

Membership

Current Numbers

  • 13 active full members
  • 18 supportive and exploring members

New Plan

CCOP has fallen out of good practice and discipline when it comes to membership.  After reviewing the policies, procedures, and habits the Board has voted and approved a new membership system and we plan to begin starting in January 2010. 

All churches and faith communities who want to be members regardless of level (full or affiliate) will be asked to sign a new covenant/agreement form to start the New Year off on the right foot. The driving organizing principle behind these changes is "Rewards come to those who do the work". 

Churches and faith communities in the City of Camden will now have two options of membership.  Either Full Membership or Affiliate Membership, each form has its own level of benefits and responsibilities, which will be taken seriously and used to hold both the church and CCOP staff accountable. 

Suburban Faith Communities and Organizations such as community development corporations will now be asked to become Affiliate members to better serve their particular needs as well as better serve the health and organizing of CCOP.  Part of this plan is the Camden Solidarity Project which currently has 4 faith institutions outside of the city of Camden who are taking steps to becoming affiliate members. 

For a more detailed look at the benefits and responsibilities that come with either membership form, please see the new membership forms provided by CCOP staff. 

The Board

During 2009, the Board got back into a regular meeting schedule and began holding both each other and the Executive Director more accountable.  Part of this work included revisiting CCOP policies, procedures, practices, habits, work levels, organizing standards, board responsibilities, accounting practices, and financial health.  Beginning in January 2010, the board has decided to make a concerted effort to recruit and rebuild its active members.  The Board has also expressed the desire to conduct board elections for Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary mid 2010.  In order to do this, current board members have agreed to work with CCOP staff to begin a formal development and recruitment process.  Aiding this process are the new covenant agreement forms signed by members, which will include the naming of individuals to sit on the CCOP board.

Conclusion

Looking ahead, I'm both excited and energized to see what CCOP will do next year and in the distant future.  2010 marks the 25th Anniversary of your organizing work and this is truly remarkable.  What makes this all the more powerful is the fact that many of the founding mothers and fathers are still in our ranks and this is something that must both be cherished and not taken for granted.  There is a wealth of history and experience in our leadership ranks and we are blessed to have it.

Organizations in the PICO network grow and die every year and it is our goal as staff to see CCOP on the road to another 25 successful years.  This is not going to be easy; the world of faith based community organizing is wrought with challenge, tension, and obstacles. But as has always been the case and as the psalmist's assure us, God will lead CCOP, God will make CCOP lie down in green pastures, God will lead us beside still waters, God will restore our souls, God will lead CCOP on the right path and even though we walk in the valley, we can fear no evil for God is with us.  All of this will occur provided we are willing and open to walk together in relationship and in power.