CAFé: NM Communidades en Acción y de Fé / Faith Based Community Organizing

“The rising tide of economic inequality in this nation cries out for people of faith to act. It is very much in the very nature of faithful living—in any religion—to be welcoming to those society rejects, to free those who are oppressed, and to provide in every way possible for the basic material needs of all people.”
-Retired Reverend Gorton Smith

NM Communidades en Accion y de Fe (CAFé) was established in 2009 by Sarah Nolan, Executive Director, and is a faith based non-profit, non-partisan organization that organizes people at the local, state, and national levels. CAFé’s goal is to bridge the gap between communities and policymakers by empowering individuals to participate in their communities. CAFé recognizes that people are capable of becoming their own advocates when provided with tools such as training and development. Currently the organization has a staff of two community organizers, Mariaelena Johnson and Carli Romero, and an Operations and Communications Manager, Rose Ann Vasquez, that are committed to raising the quality of life of our communities.

Faith based organizing is about people, and CAFé aspires to create a culture of support that empowers New Mexicans to act on their own behalf towards a better quality of life. Since its inception CAFé has been a crucial actor in the political landscape in southern New Mexico creating a “land of opportunity” by challenging our elected leaders to put the needs of families and the common good of New Mexico first. At the helm of CAFé’s efforts are strong spiritual leaders who have played a pivotal role in healing the state and restoring people’s confidence in a responsive government that promotes opportunity for all.

Because the organization’s work is rooted in the faith of a Catholic priest, Catholic social teaching is woven throughout its programs and its mission. Catholic churches not working with CAFé are encouraged to explore a deeper relationship with the organization and its mission for social concern.

Locally CAFé continues to work arduously in the areas identified by our local congregations and communities; such as in immigration rights where community leaders have organized to petition the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s department to establish a standard operating procedure that prioritizes a safe county for all. Other areas that have been identified include the gaps in health care for children, the mentally ill and homeless. By collaborating with the community, CAFé seeks to register 4,000 eligible children for Medicaid. Furthermore, CAFé community leaders have organized to preserve the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks Wilderness and surrounding areas as a way to strengthen the local economy and for future generations to enjoy. Finally, in our foreclosure work, community leaders have brought together state partners to reduce and prevent foreclosures in New Mexico. Plus, homeowners and other community residents continue to advocate for safe, quality, and affordable housing for all.

CAFé has also held DREAMer clinics to assist those who are eligible for deferred action to apply. DREAMers are children of immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents or guardians at a young age and have been living here as productive members of our community. CAFé’s work with immigrants and for reform are key in helping churches engage in the Justice for Immigrants campaign, which is also supported by our bishops.

These issues culminate into the broader scope of the organization’s mission, which is civic engagement. These are the experiences of New Mexicans, and it is vital that community leaders continue to actively participate in shaping the decisions that directly impact our lives. Community leaders associated with CAFé organize numerous actions at the local, state, and national levels that have brought thousands of community members together to raise awareness about the various issues, and to develop a strategy towards viable resolutions.

CAFé encourages the community to join its efforts in engaging a million voters nationwide around the common issues that affect us all. Voting is the first step towards active participation in one’s community.

For more information about CAFé, please visit our website at or call us at (575) 618-6228.

Fall 2012
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