Vol. 4    No. 10
May 14, 2009 Archives

2009 Production Schedule

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Claire G. Mendoza
  The Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) has always been one of those places where viewpoints on race
relations in Madison always met. Those viewpoints have always been diverse and changed with which particular sector
of society was weighing in at any given point in time. It’s a place that wasn’t Black enough for some and too Black for
others. No matter what ULGM was, somebody was not going to be happy with it.
   ULGM is a place where the expectations for what it could accomplish have always greatly outstripped the relatively
meager resources at its disposal. It has been a place that was expected to meet every social and economic ill that the
African American community was experiencing and was expected to make each individual’s life better no matter what
the individual had or hadn’t done to put themselves in position to make a change in their lives. And when ULGM
couldn’t deliver, people talked about it out in the community and out in the streets. And it often times didn’t get credit
when people accomplished something in their lives and became economically self-sufficient.
   I know these things because I worked at the Urban League for 12 years, from 1982-1994. I was privileged to serve
eight of those years under Betty Franklin-Hammonds who guided the Urban League through some of its biggest
challenges and its greatest growth. I remember experiencing and hearing all of that during my tenure at the League as
vice president of operations and twice as interim president.
   And yet through all of the perceptions and failed or met expectations, the Urban League did serve a lot of people
and made a difference in their lives. When I left the Urban League in 1994, I calculated that over 2,000 people got
jobs while I served there. Hundreds of youth got their first work experience through the Pre-Employment Program.
Hundreds upon hundreds more youth benefited from the after school activities of Project Jamaa and its companion
programs operated by Centro Hispano. Hundreds of teen parents got the social service and educational support they
needed through our teen parent program. We educated thousands more about the risk of HIV/AIDS in an era when it
was just now beginning to inflict the African American community. It was exhilarating to be a member of a team that
was truly having a positive impact on every day people. I am sure that people who worked at the Urban League before
and after I did had the same feeling. Who knows how many people have been helped by the League.
And then there are the many staff people and board members who benefitted while they served. How many people got
their start in the employment world at the Urban League? When I look around the city, I see many hard working people,
some of them prominent, who cut their employment teeth at the League. And how about the hundreds of board
members who served during the past 41 years? While many of them did give their time and their treasure to the Urban
League, I also know that it benefitted their own careers. I have seen membership on the Urban League board on many
a resume.
   There are so many people who have benefitted and I now hope that the former board, staff and consumers of Urban
League services now feel the desire and need to give back to the Urban League as it completes its $4 million capital
campaign for its new center on Park Street and the operating funds to make it operational once they move in.
As a former Urban Leaguer staffer, I have joined the capital campaign as a member of the Founders Campaign, which
has the goal of raising $125,000. I have made my pledge, which is stretching my relatively meager resources. While I
put my heart and soul into the Urban League for 12 years, I also feel the need to give back to the agency so that future
generations of board members, staff and consumers can benefit from the services and exposure that I received. We
have to step up to the plate and take the Urban League to a new level in order to improve the economic conditions in
the African American community. The time to give back is now. If everyone who has benefitted from the Urban
League gave something, the Urban League would meet its goal overnight. I hope enough of us remember to give back
something of that which we have gained to make it possible for others to benefit as well. That is what community
development is all about. Give generously to the Urban League capital campaign.
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                     ULGM Capital Campaign

Celebrating Asian Pacific American
Heritage Month


Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Heidi Manabat
Managing Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Paul Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Fabu, Andrew
Gramling, Lang Kenneth Haynes,
Heidi Pascual, Jessica Pharm,
Laura Salinger, Martinez White