ACTS: Transforming Syracuse

On Sunday, November 18, over 800 people gathered at Bethany Baptist church as members or allies of the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS), a faith-based organizing initiative. We established in a public and powerful manner our shared commitments to specific improvements locally in the areas of healthcare, economic development/jobs, youth, and justice.

Taskforces created to work on each of these four issues gave presentations and called for support from public officials. During the Healthcare Taskforce presentation, the number “7,500” was displayed in big red digits. There are some 7,500 children in Onondaga County who are uninsured even though they are eligible for public health benefits such as Child Health Plus. (To put “7,500” in perspective, the combined population of the Villages of East Syracuse, Liverpool and Marcellus is 7,278, according to the 2006 Census.)

The Taskforce secured a commitment from local officials to deal with this crisis. Those who stood with us were NYS Assemblywoman Joan Christensen, Assemblyman Al Stirpe and Congressman James Walsh as well as Onondaga County Executive-elect Joanie Mahoney, County Legislature Health Committee Chair Kathy Rapp and Amanda Nestor representing Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Murrow. State Senator Dave Valesky and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli were not present but sent written commitments of support, and Governor Elliot Spitzer’s regional representative Dan Young sent a verbal pledge of support.

The other three taskforces have similarly committed public officials to work with them to follow through on taskforce goals. To learn more about the issues, visit our blog at

Also present were: Syracuse Common Councilors Thomas Seals and William Simmons, Syracuse City School District Board member Nancy McCarty, Onondaga County Legislators Lovie Winslow and Monica Williams, Chief Richard Carbery with the County Sheriff’s office, and County Department of Social Services Commissioner David Sutkowy. The Service Employees International Union Local 1199 is also a key ally of ACTS.

The Public Meeting, according to reflections by participants, pumped many people’s hearts and moved ACTION. Congratulations to ACTS President Rev. Nebraski Carter, event Program Chair Mrs. Linda Ervin, turnout chair Rev. Kevin Agee, and to all the teams: the Public Meeting Organizing Team, the four taskforces, the Research and Action Team chair Magda Bayoumi, the Logistics Team, the Press Team, the Clergy Caucus, the Fundraising Team and the ACTS Board of Directors! We invite all (regardless of whether or not you belong to a faith community) to join us in this exciting venture to build a new and powerful voice for Syracuse!

-Andrés Kwon & Khadija Mehter