June 5, 2006
Dear Friends and Institute Supporters,
I've had a lot of different roles at the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute: employee, member of the Board of Directors, grantee and sponsored group contact. Working at the Muste Institute gave me new skills and helped me grow as an activist. I also learned how the Muste Institute's programs are a crucial resource in the nonviolent movement for peace and justice. Please join me now in making a donation to sustain this important work.
I came to the United States from the Philippines as the child of an immigrant domestic worker. As a women's studies major in college, I wrote my senior thesis about the relationship between domestic workers and their employers. My research led me to the Filipina women's activist group GABRIELA Network (GABNet) www.gabnet.org/ . I returned to New York City to attend graduate school and became involved in GABNet. In 2001, I worked for the Muste Institute, which gave me "hands-on" experience in the real work of an organization, as I was acquiring my degree in non-profit management.
Working at the Muste Institute was a real eye-opener! For a small group, there is so much happening. The energy in the building is incredible. It's a tremendous resource in itself to have a space where all these activists work together. New York is a difficult and expensive place to maintain an office. If the Muste Institute didn't provide the subsidized offices to groups like War Resisters League, Met Council on Housing, Deep Dish Television and others, a lot of important organizing might never happen. GABNet was able to use free office space to hold its meetings at 339 Lafayette Street and the organization was able to grow and stabilize. Now we have our own office, thanks to the initial support we received from the Muste Institute. Like A.J. Muste himself, the Institute does not receive a lot of attention, but I think it's fair to say that many actions have happened and many groups have formed that might not have done so if it wasn't for the Institute's support.
Nothing in my fundraising and administration text books or lectures prepared me for the actual work of screening grant and sponsorship applications, reading and sorting all the information that came into the office, learning how to maintain the necessary records and even how the building runs! The Muste Institute is a truly unique organization, which has helped keep the nonviolent movement going for over 30 years.
When I finished my graduate studies, I was fortunate enough to get a full-time job at a non-profit community development agency. So I traded my place on staff for a position on the Board of Directors. Serving on the board for nearly two years gave me an even greater appreciation of the Muste Institute, especially its grantmaking programs. The board and staff work very hard at sorting through many worthy proposals to decide which grants to make. Generally fewer than half the wonderful projects that come in get funded, even though virtually all of them deserve support. I can't tell you how often the Board wished there was more money available to distribute among such inspiring projects.
Because of who I am and my life experience, I've devoted most of my time to GABNet and working for human rights for women, gays and lesbians, and immigrants. What I most appreciated about the Muste Institute as a pacifist group is their perspective that nonviolent action is the means to create a broad range of social change. The Institute is very involved in supporting actions to stop militarism and oppose war, but it also devotes a lot of time and effort seeking projects that use nonviolence and education to promote human rights and broader social justice. Because of that the Institute has been especially supportive of GABNet's work opposing the ongoing killings and political persecution of women rights activists in the Philippines, including those of GABRIELA Philippines. We thank the Institute for its continued solidarity with GABNet.
The Muste Institute has successfully increased its grant making over the years, but the need grows more quickly. My experience "inside" the Institute has shown me that your contributions are vital for this work. If you can double your donation, it will provide a great boost to all the Institute's programs, but easily five times as much money is needed to support all the groups and projects that are out there trying to stop the war, abolish the death penalty, secure human rights and promote economic justice.
Unfortunately, I've had to leave the Muste Institute's board. I've just started a new job at an international gay and lesbian rights organization and I continue to be active in GABNet. Luckily, the Institute serves as GABNet's fiscal sponsor and I maintain contact as GABNet's liaison. I continue as a contributor to the Muste Institute. I hope you will join me in making a donation now. Our national resources are being squandered on war. Our civil liberties and human rights are under continuing attack from the government and conservative forces. Your support is needed to make the peace and social justice movement stronger and to make a difference in changing our country's direction. Please take a moment to write the largest check you can afford and send it in to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute. A return envelope is enclosed for your convenience.
Thank you for your help and support for all our work.
In continued solidarity -- Makibaka, huwag matakot! (Struggle, do not fear!)
P.S. As usual, your contributions to the Muste Institute are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.