Ringing the Bell April 2014 The Waterbury Observer
After a long, hard, and for some, miserable winter, we are blessed, as always, with the arrival of another spring. Warmer days are upon us, new growth of flowers and trees, and robins flying in the brilliant sunshine. You get an overwhelming good feeling by just going outside. As New Englanders, we know and accept the changes of the seasons, and for those of us who were born here or lived here for many years, the New England weather has become our internal weather, it speaks of our spirit and who we are, particularly as Waterburians.
As the OIC movement of self-help and opportunity turns fifty this year, a long discussion by the executive directors, staff and boards across the country, has been in progress throughout 2014, focusing on the optimism of our future movement within these changing times. In June, the OIC family will gather by the thousands in Philadelphia, home of the OIC movement, to celebrate our milestone. A part of the celebration will be a continuing detailed discussion on maintaining OIC’s relevance in a very competitive national market place. With the turn of the century and the changing technologies, the advent and growth of social media, many OICs are re-tooling old programs and have modified their names to reflect the changes. It was in 1967 that our founder, Reverend Leon Sullivan, in BUILD BROTHER, BUILD, penned the words,”… throughout the world things are changing. Old ways of doing things no longer stand up. Old ideas that people had about other people … are no longer true in this day and time.” These are words that continue to ring true for every season.
Here at home, it seems like yesterday that the Waterbury OIC began. Forty years ago we opened our doors for the first time to offer programs to a changing community, training bank tellers, teaching computer skills, building new houses in distressed locations, and offering a host of programs which has kept WOIC evolving as a vital source to the community.
Watching the sprouting buds this spring, I am reminded of many of the older directors, like myself, who might take a longer time to accept and implement new innovations of which younger converts are already blessed as seasoned users and creators. Today’s young learners spring into action with a fervor for change. They refer to flip phones and large laptops as near obsolete technologies from the days when they were entering high school. Today, apps and icons are designed by young people before they graduate from college. Change is just so constant.
WOIC is blessed to have such talented young people continue to walk through our doors to help us with our mission. In that new day spirit of growth that spring symbolizes, we welcome Jacqui Paredes who signed up for the WOIC Saturday Conversational Spanish, and stayed to offer her services. She is young, a certified tax preparer, a notary, a motivator who brings with her expertise in new technologies. But most important, Ms. Paredes is a new student of the history of the OIC movement; the man, the message—Rev. Sullivan and his books—and the people of WOIC have impacted her in such a positive way to give of herself. She has brought rays of spring sunshine in her quest to learn and contribute at WOIC.
It is a good feeling for us, knowing that more people are learning of our founder and mission through our Facebook Group page or our website at waterburyoic.org, now set up to receive donations through new methods. Ms. Paredes serves as our Webmaster.
We thank supporters who bought flowers at WOIC’s annual Easter Weekend Flower Sale, “Flowers to the People” at our Center. This is the fundraiser for our creative “Young Civic Learners”, a program serving to ensure WOIC will have a pool of young minds with new ideas for change.
Today we ring the bell for the hope and spirit of spring and the new growth it always brings.