Literacy Connects is a Safe Place

Special Blog from Betty Stauffer, Executive Director of Literacy Connects.

Literacy Connects, as our name implies, is a connector.

We connect to, with, and for people of all ages—regardless of age, race, gender, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. This is a scary time for the hundreds of immigrant and refugee children and adults that are in our programs. Most of them have experienced scary times before. Literacy Connects’ programs have become known as safe places. We are proud to work with anyone who wants to learn and proud to advocate for their safety and rights whenever we can. If you visit our building you will see a sticker on the front door that proclaims that Literacy Connects is a safe place.

It has been reported in Tucson, and around the country, that hate crimes have spiked dramatically since the election. In keeping with Literacy Connects’ values we recently joined a new coalition in Tucson –the We Stand Together Network. This is an inter-agency collaboration which expands upon the Tucson Police Department’s Safe Spaces Initiative. The We Stand Together Network offers resources on how to advocate for our loved ones and neighbors against hate crimes of any kind.

The launch event for the We Stand Together Network was held on November 30th at the YWCA’s Frances McClelland Community Center. Over 400 people attended—people from all walks of life and of all races, ages, ethnicities, faiths, and sexual orientations. I was inspired simply by the breadth of people who attended, compelled by their commitment to justice and civility.

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Several speakers shared stories of the pain of discrimination. The primary message I took away from the evening was that none of us can remain silent any longer. If we see a hate crime in progress we need to call 911 immediately. The harder part is to not remain silent when we hear discriminatory or hateful comments and jokes. I know I have been guilty of dropping my head and not speaking up in those situations. I am committed to changing that behavior.

We Stand Together Tucson will host trainings in the coming months. I will be there. I hope you will be too.

The first nonviolence and activism training is on Saturday, January 14th from 9:00 AM to 4:40 PM at the YWCA at 525 N Bonita Ave. Details are here.

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