Cesar Chavez Day: Women Leaders Volunteer And Commemorate

On Saturday, March 31st a brigade of women in our movement plodded through puddles of rain, cleaned up debris, pulled out nails from salvaged wood, installed soffit boards, and tended plants in the community garden at the PCUN-CLI compound. This was not your ordinary Saturday morning on the property of PCUN, as 30-40 women volunteers came out for a day of service to commemorate Cesar Chavez’s 85th Birthday. Their purpose:  to help with the construction of the CAPACES Leadership Institute, the future training ground for current and future leaders for el movimiento.

The spirit of Cesar Chavez could be felt as women leaders carried on the tradition of community service of Cesar Chavez Day. ““I’m here to help,” remarked volunteer Melinda Veliz, Multicultural Director of Silverton Health, “This is an amazing service project.  The Institute will empower others in the community to become leaders. Leaders can come here and gain new skill sets, and lead our community where leadership is lacking.”

Starting at Noon, volunteers gathered in PCUN’s Risberg Hall for a special ceremony that included a presentation of Cesar Chavez’s life story (presented by the PCUNcitos), a mini-commemoration of the Willamette Valley Law Project’s 35th anniversary, the musical styling of duo Piel Canela, and a keynote speech by First Lady of Oregon, Cylvia Hayes.

Hayes, who is also founder and CEO of 3EStrategies, a clean economy consulting firm, hailed that Cesar Chavez for seeing the unlimited potential of individuals to take action for a powerful cause.  She offered strong support for the Institute as following in that tradition.

As volunteers filed out of Risberg Hall to return home, the building site next door looked better than when the morning started.  It was one more step and brought us a day closer to the Institute’s Grand Opening on Saturday, August 25th.  César Chávez Day 2012 moved us closer to the community reaping a richer harvest of the movement’s collective labor.

They’re On Our Side-ing

The Institute building construction has attracted an ample supply of heroes over these many months.  The latest group is the volunteer siding installers, led by Angel Paz of Artisan Exterior Construction in Woodburn.

Over the past two weeks, Angel and member of his crew—ranging from three to six workers—spent the better part of four days installing the Hardi-plank and Hardi-panel siding, plus soffit and trim boards, on the entire exterior.

We had never met Angel before he walked onto the site a few months ago.  He had seen the construction unfolding and learned from his brother that we were looking for volunteers.  We recently asked Angel what it was that moved him to volunteer and to motivate his crew to join him on the job.  “My family and I feel the need to help the community—we live here and my children are born here.  My crew and I are also keeping alive our tradition from Mexico, pitching in on projects that benefit the community.  Sadly, too many immigrants lose that custom.”

From the outside, the Institute’s home is starting to show its final form and look—though you still have to use your imagination to visualize window and doors in place of plastic sheeting covering the openings.

We’re already looking forward to the next wave of heroes who will tackle the electrical “rough-in” and another wave readying to do the painting. We’ll bring those stories next month.
Meanwhile, we’re stepping up the pace and scheduling of volunteer “brigades.”  Top on our task list is preparing the way for the “hard-scape”—sidewalks, patio pavers, parking area, etc.  We’ll de-construct our faithful 500-square foot storage shed to make way for the driveway entrance and parking lot.

If you can volunteer—pretty much any day—contact Javier Lara at javierl@pcun.org and join the ranks of the CLI construction heroes.

Twenty… And Counting

As we wrapped up the recent board-staff planning retreat for the CAPACES Leadership Institute, we added up the programs on the Institute’s list for 2012.  We knew we had a lot going on—more than half are already underway and few more will be shortly.  But even we were surprised at the total number:  twenty.

The program docket, including a one-paragraph description of each class, course or activity, fills four single-spaced pages—about five times the length of these occasional updates.  We’ve picked out two to share.  Both are brand new programs.

The first is one we call “TURNO” or “Talento Universitario Regresando a Nuestros Orígenes (University Talent Returning to Our Origins), creating a path for capable and motivated young folks to embrace and prepare for long-term movement leadership.  Each fall, the Institute plans to recruit a dozen Woodburn High School juniors for sessions on leadership, movement history, and community service.  The Institute will convene gatherings of TURNO cohorts during vacations to reinforce connections and to help them visualize their roles after graduation.  We intend that TURNO will steadily increase the pool of new leaders, even assuming that many don’t return.  TURNO will also expand the network of movement supporters, rooted in our communities, who go out into—and succeed in—the wider world.

CLI Programs Coordinator Abel Valladares has led recruitment of a pioneering group of  TURNistas who are piloting and shaping the activities strategies.  We hope and expect that they will continue in TURNO through next academic and help recruit the new cohort.

The second program we’d like to highlight is a research special project we call “Agricultural Wealth in the Mid-Willamette Valley:  Who has created it and who controls it?”  The challenge for CLI Communications and Grants Manager Ranfis Villatoro and two paid project interns, is to assemble stories and stats that compellingly convey the answers, and then shape the material in a popular education style class.  That class will be incorporated into future offerings of CAPACES 101 (enrolling new staff and emerging leaders) and will likely grow into a course all its own   This project is funded by the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics at the University of Oregon as part of their “Capitalism and the Common Good” initiative.


In the months ahead we’ll describe other Institute courses.  As of today, that’s only 18 more to go.

!Si SE PUDO! We Reached Our Goal!

!Si Se Pudo! WE DID IT

Thanks to 278 donors in 13 states, thanks to thirteen foundations and the 22 grants they made, we reached our capital campaign goal:  $750,000.

Last month, 26 Institute supporters responded to our call and contributed $7,500—the final 1%.  Thirteen were new donors.

Overall, the campaign lasted about 27 months, from its official launch on October 7, 2009 when we had a few grants and pledges totaling about $165,000.

Here’s an overview of the capital campaign by the numbers:

  • Grants totaled $503,250 (just over the $500,000 target we had set);
  • Donations totaled $246,989 (just short of the $250,000 target);
  • 148 new donors contributed $67,590;
  • There were 123 out-of-state donors, thanks in large measure to the ten gatherings we organized between July 2010 and September 2011 in places like Seattle, Oakland, New York City and Cambridge, Mass.;
  • Donation amounts ranged from $5 to $25,000. The median donation was $100 (59 donors at that level).

In 2009, we estimated the number of donors that we expected might contribute at different levels.  As it turned out, we had twice the number of contributors under $250 than expected and we had twice the number between $1,001 and $4,000 than expected.  However we had only half the number between $250 and $1,000 than originially projected.

We deeply appreciate the generous support and welcome new supporters to our movement.  We also recognize that the capital campaign has made our movement stronger by building the capacity of some of our leaders who were new to fundraising.  They came away with valuable experience and skills.

One of those lessons is that fundraising work is organizing work which, practically by definition, is never “done.”  Abel Valladares, who coordinated the capital campaign donor fundraising and is now a full-time Institute staffer, will lead our campaign “sum-up” and evaluation.  Then, we’ll look ahead…to building a strong donor base for the Institute for 2013 and beyond.

Still, the “contributing” continues, mostly in the form of materials, services, labor necessary to complete construction of the Institute’s permanent home next to PCUN headquarters.

“It is a wrap”

In Hollywood, that means we’re all done.  In construction, not quite so.

For the CAPACES Leadership Institute, it’s “Hydro-Tex” wrap—the weather barrier stapled over the “Dens-glass” sheathing —another step closer to completing the building exterior

In mid-January, we’re, poised for a spurt of very visibly progress, not unlike the one that took the building from bare concrete slab to roofed structure in about 60 days last summer and early fall.

The impending leap forward will move construction through the stages of electrical and data wiring “rough-in”, wall insulation, siding, and window and exterior door install, all, we expect, by March 1st.  Then we’ll be ready for HVAC install and for hanging drywall and interior doors.

Along the way, our “army” of volunteers grows and is fast approaching the 1,000 mark which we envisioned in the “10,000 fingerprints” campaign.  On January 13th, Portland Youth Builders sent a squad for the second time in a year.  The following day, two dozen volunteers—mostly Woodburn High School students—conducted site clean up and participated in a dialogue with the PCUNcitos Club, activities specially dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To sign up for future work days, contact Javier Lara at javierl@pcun.org