The founder of Chicago organizing Saul Alinsky used to say, “You can tell the caliber of an organization by the quality of its celebrations.” I’m sure he would have awarded Interfaith Worker Justice’s 15th Anniversary Celebration an A+. Everyone from the 350 Conference delegates returning from Monday’s action at three Hyatt Hotels to 100 special friends of IWJ had a wonderful time celebrating 15 years of fighting for justice.
Organized by a great committee led by loyal IWJ supporter Fran Sullivan and former IWJ Development Associate Simintha Esson, the Celebration was a chance for Chicago area friends of IWJ to share the excitement of the Conference. They enjoyed Mexican labor and justice songs by nationally recognized educator and entertainer Jesus “Chuy” Negrete.
Chris Inserra led members of the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ in union classics like Step by Step and Ella’s song and everyone joined in on We Shall Not Be Moved/No Nos Moveran and, of course, Solidarity Forever.
IWJ Board MemberReverend Jim Sessions shared how he first met Kim Bobo at the Pittston Coal Mine Strike when she came to Virginia to help organize faith leaders to support the thousands of coal mine families on strike. He introduced Kim, who then praised all the people involved with the action at the Hyatt Hotels. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis saluted IWJ’s work on Wage Theft in a video specially prepared for the Celebration. As the first Hispanic woman to serve in the U. S. Cabinet, Solis carries the concerns of the working poor.
Dani Samons, the Conference Celebration Coordinator, had organized IWJ’s first silent auction with 63 unique items such as a Thai dinner at Kim Bobo’s, lunch in DC and a visit to the Newseum with Board MemberRos Pelles, lithographs of Jacob Lawrence’s silkscreen “Swearing In” donated by Board Member Jules Bernstein, and the most popular item, a gorgeous oil painting of the Chicago skyline at night by Adler School intern Brittany Nalley.
A reunion of current and former IWJ staff
Photos by Kristi Sanford www.lightonlifeimages.com
Special kudos go to Regina Botterill, the very first employee of Interfaith Worker Justice (Kim Bobo was #2), who began to search for the “First Fifteen” employees of IWJ, and ended up with a list of 38 former employees! Eighteen former employees had a ball at the party and vowed to create an IWJ Alumni Association so they can keep in touch with IWJ and each other.
Thanks to Committee Members Nancy Burke, Regina Botterill, Kristin Kumpf, Tina Herpe, Board Member John Howard who hosted the evaluation party, Craig Mousin, Kristi Sanford who took photographs, and Jennifer Barger Williamson who recruited the terrific choir. IWJ’s Individual Outreach Coordinator Cathy Junia prepared an excellent video covering IWJ’s first 15 years. Volunteers Kim Harrington and Mike Gorman helped with checkout, Jane Beckett helped with the silent auction, and Joe Barabe did wonderful photographs. We are already planning another great event for 2013.