Community Organizer – what the heck is that? The Republicans of today’s world suggest there is something demeaning or degrading about the role of community organizer. There are two videos in this post to support that position. But our local Community Chamber of Commerce might take exception to the degrading comments. And those darn Red Cross organizers who give up their time to go to New Orleans during hurricane season demean regular upstanding Republicans by organizing to help others.
Community organizing is a process by which disempowered people—most often low- and moderate-income people—are brought together to act in their common self-interest. Community organizers act as area-wide coordinators of programs for different agencies in an attempt to meet community needs for health and welfare services. They also facilitate self-help programs initiated by local common-interest groups, for example, by training local leaders to analyze and solve the problems of a community. Community organizers work actively, as do other types of social workers, in community councils of social agencies and in community-action groups. At times the role of community organizers overlaps that of the social planners.
The local Chamber of Commerce where this writer lives embodies this definition, promoting disempowered people by supporting small business loan programs. Most of the folks at the Chamber, including their Board of Directors, sit on the Boards of the Social Welfare Board, the Second Harvest Food Bank, the YMCA, the YWCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Community Mental Health Center, and the Red Cross.
Last week, when New Orleans was being evacuated in the face of Gustav, our local community organizers readied our Civic Arena. They were prepared to take up to 200 refugies from the storm ravaged Gulf Coast. How insulting to our local Republican leadership – allowing people like this to operate in our community.
Our local Social Welfare Board runs a clinic for people with no income and no health care insurance. The Board is loaded up with local Republicans – what are they to do with this new revelation that the national Republican leadership thinks of them as some sort of joke?
Community Organizers are everywhere – they run the small towns and the big cities – they are the glue that holds community together. Actually, they are they very definition of community. Community means that we come together for a common purpose, for our common welfare.
And who do you suppose organizes that darn United Way every year?