CAARSEA had a busy 2022, and it’s important to us that all of our supporters know the many ways their efforts have been felt in the past year. Even if you’ve been involved with some of our signature initiatives, you may not be aware of just how much is going on behind the scenes! We wanted to provide you with a roundup of all the work that CAARSEA is doing to make our community a more inclusive and equitable place.
Here’s what our many committees have been up to:
Our Policing Committee, led by Gail Plant and Lorrie Scott, has worked tirelessly to build relationships with local police departments, and those efforts began to pay off this past year. When an area cemetery was vandalized with swastikas, committee members were able to communicate directly with police chiefs from Plymouth and Whitemarsh townships for real-time updates on how the situation was being handled.
The Policing Committee is also working to increase diversity in our local police departments. In Whitemarsh Township, the committee consulted with the police department on increasing diversity of new hires, resulting in the hire of the department’s first Hispanic officer. The committee provided similar consultation to the Plymouth Police Department, whose first black officer was sworn into service in June.
Two CAARSEA members also participated in Plymouth Township Police Citizens’ Police Academy. This program ran from January until June and provided opportunities for township residents to learn about law enforcement and build relationships with the first responders who serve our community.
The Policing Committee also hosted a town hall with Police Chief George Metz and Conshohocken mayor Yaniv Aronson where the community could ask questions and voice concerns about crime and law enforcement.
Our Elections and Voting Committee, headed by Melissa Livney and Lou Ann Merkle, works with local political groups and voting rights organizations to create engagement opportunities for CAARSEA members. They logged an incredible number of miles walking around area neighborhoods, knocking on doors to educate their neighbors and inspire voter turnout.
The committee kicked into high gear leading up to Election Day, engaging several CAARSEA members and their children to create voter education videos for sharing on social media. Numerous CAARSEA members also came out in force on Election Day, doing everything from handing out literature to serving in more formal roles such as Judge of Elections.
As part CAARSEA’s Educational Programming, Board member Sonia Pinckney poured many hours of planning and execution into our “Let’s Talk Elections” Zoom series. Over six sessions, the series covered topics such as redistricting, how to run for office, and provided residents with an opportunity to meet their local candidates.
Our Houseless Outreach Committee, led by Cheryll Darby, held a total of twelve events at the Norristown Transportation Center. These outreach events brought CAARSEA members together with our unhoused neighbors and provided a wide range of necessities to help those neighbors live their lives with greater comfort and dignity.
The CAARSEA community was incredibly generous in donating and purchasing items to be distributed at each outreach event. In total, our outreach events provided:
190 sleeping bags
450 turkey and cheese sandwiches
310 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
180 ham sandwiches
576 bottles of water
300 protein drinks
360 pairs of sneakers
1,022 pairs of socks
740 pairs of warm pants
155 winter coats
Finally, the CAARSEA Youth & Schools Committee, headed by Monica Salvia, is working alongside Colonial School District to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. Knowing that Black students are five times more likely than non-Black students to be suspended out of school and seven times more likely to be arrested, the committee advocated for a reduction in the number of arrestable offenses listed in the district’s MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with local police departments. As a result, the school district changed their local policing contract this past summer to reduce the number of arrestable offenses from 54 to 33.
Thank you to all of those who supported CAARSEA’s efforts in 2022! If you see a committee that you’d like to get involved with, please contact us via our website.