Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Monday, December 08, 2008

NCUD's Christmas Letter

Dear friends,

Merry Christmas from all of us here at Northern California Urban Development (NCUD)! As 2008 comes to a close there is much to be thankful for and reflect upon.

Lately I've been thinking about an analogy that describes NCUD's work in the community. We are painfully aware of the current economic conditions in our country and world. East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park certainly aren't immune from the problems, which are indicated by the well over 400 distressed properties in our community that are either in or near foreclosure. Truly, a fire is raging and lives are being forever changed. In a fire there is always a short-term and long-term response. The short-term response saves lives and property. The longer term involves two activities: replanting and future fire prevention.

As I've meditated on the correlations between a fire and NCUD, I'm thankful that God has placed our organization in the middle of the crisis at the right time. Who would have known four years ago that Community Trust Credit Union (CTCU), sponsored by NCUD, would be on the front lines of the fight, helping members navigate their financial lives through these state of affairs? How could we have known that financial literacy would play such a vital role? I can only attribute that to God's wisdom and His leading you and I to work together.

Our youth financial literacy program currently serves over 150 students a week! These classes are another way we are helping to protect lives from future fires. Given the current economic situation, we’ve had the privilege of helping our students understand what is happening so that they can conceptualize the greater depth of how their decisions with money affect their lives. A guest speaker came in to explain the $700 billion bailout in terms that would make sense to high school students that didn’t really understand why it was deemed a financial crisis. Students were able to understand more fully what led up to the bail out and why it was so extreme. Great discussions sparked up between classmates, including their own take on the financial mistakes made and what they would have done differently. The chance we have to see youth openly discuss financial matters that affect their lives is further proof that our programs have had a resounding success!

Lastly, NCUD is currently in the middle of a number of vital conversations regarding housing and foreclosures in our community. The issues are complex, the needs staggering. Conversely, we have a number of resources in our arsenal to craft a direction and response to the housing crisis. In the coming weeks we will be proving out a program directed specifically at community transformation and rebuilding through an affordable housing strategy. Please look for exciting news soon!

As we persevere through the ongoing economic issues and development in our community, we need your help now more than ever. The current crisis will most certainly impact non-profit organizations such as ours. Yet, I truly believe we are playing a vital role for 'such a time as this'. A gift this season will have a number of impacts. It will allow us to expand our youth financial literacy program by over 50 students a week beginning in January 2009. In order to meet our expanding opportunities we would like to raise $35,000 by the end of December. Secondly, it insures that we remain on the front lines of the 'fire fight' - providing us with necessary resources to consult with local individuals and organizations and creatively and collaboratively maximize our resources to help the many families that are in need. I can honestly say that this year, your gift is even more vital. Will you join with us?

Thank you for the many prayers and generous support of Northern California Urban Development. Have a blessed Christmas and wonderful New Year.

In Him,

John Liotti and the NCUD Team

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