2017-2018 President's Report

In keeping with its mission and organizational values The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester continues its advocacy work for social justice. We are outspoken publicly by producing OP/Ed articles that address the injustices in the treatment of the poor, reducing funding for children and families and immigration. In some instances, we speak out at public meetings and in others participating in marches as well as cosponsoring events and activities. Active collaboration with other groups and organizations with similar interests and concerns is evident through our participation with for example, The Rochester Voter Alliance, Fair Campaign Practice and Gun Violence initiatives and programs as well as others.

We invite you to visit our website @ www.tiar.org or contact H.Robert Herman @ 585-385-1155.

We encourage you to join and participate on one of the following committees:

ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE  - Year End Report for 2017

This year’s focus was on Clean Energy and Climate Change. We have a new board member for the environment and he spent much of his time learning and investigating. We did take action by sending letters to our representatives in Albany, asking them to consider the Carbon tax initiative and join the climate coalition group in Albany. This action was sponsored by the Citizens Climate Lobby of Rochester (CCL). This is a very active group in Rochester meeting every month and taking action locally and nationally.

Sue Staropoli spoke at one of our board meetings on Pachamama and the Drawdown initiative here. There were introduction and training meetings in the fall of 2017. This spring, Mr.Codding will attend the Drawdown Training starting April 23rd, 2018.

Investigating, reporting and distributing action opportunities will continue this year. Environmental Organizations include Sierra Club, Climate Reality(National),The Mayors Environmental Plan, CCL, the Rochester Climate

Coalition of Rochester (RPCC) and Catholic Climate Covenant. A seminar on Solar Energy was attended by Mr. Codding presented by Dr. Susan Spencer. Information on solar energy in Rochester and our possible cooperation with RPCC will be investigated this year.

Contact Person: Richard Codding


Sister Gratia hosted the committee of Voter Alliance under the leadership of Judy Schwartz and assisted by Heide Parreno.

We identified sites for voter registration:
Plans for 2018:
1. Register August 1st – October 7th
2. Training Date- June 14, New Hope Methodist Church, Union St. 3. Online signup for volunteers

Contact Persons: Judy Schwartz, Heide Parreno


The Rochester Green Light NY Allies is a coalition of individuals from diverse social justice groups, faith communities, and community agencies that seeks to support immigrant farm workers in NYS. Its mission is to assist farm workers in their goal of getting legislation passed that will establish a “Standard Driver’s License” that will be accessible to all state residents, regardless of immigrant status.

The coalition is under the direction of the Alianza Agricola (Agricultural Alliance), a group that is led by and comprised of immigrant farm workers. This group was formed to improve the lives of immigrant farm workers in New York. Alianza Agricola decides on the projects that will be undertaken by allies of immigrant

farm workers. Currently, it is focused on obtaining driving only licenses for undocumented immigrants in New York. This project is named “Green Light NY: Driving Together”. This is the project on which the Rochester Green Light NY Allies is working.

On April 18, the legislation was introduced as Bill A1027 in the NY State Assembly. It will need to be approved by both chambers and signed by Governor Cuomo to become law.

The primary strategy (and the current focus of attention) is the Postcard Signature Drive. This strategy allows workers and their allies to collect signatures from constituents and then present these cards to the individual House Representatives and Senators. The Rochester Coalition introduced this strategy to the rest of the New York Coalitions and it was accepted by all of the Coalitions as a major strategy they will use to obtain drivers licenses for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status.

In addition to monthly meetings, training was provided. Topics included strategies for activists, the use of technology software, and the history of undocumented immigrants and licenses in New York.

Contact Person: Roberta Davis

REACH- Rochester Engaging in Action for the Chronically Homeless

REACH Advocacy opened its third emergency winter shelter last November. This year we rented a house from Dimitri, Inc on North Union Street in the city. During the course of the winter we gave shelter to about 150 persons at just about 30 persons per night. Each evening members of various faith communities and other organizations brought in an evening meal. Many of them spent time getting to know our guests and in this way our house was really transformed into a home.

We are blessed with a large number of volunteers on our team who assisted in the purchase and storage of supplies, sorting and hanging clothing, etc. We had a good staff of people who made sure that at least two people were at the Home 24/7. The staff were led by our House Manager, Shannon Coleman, assisted by Lulu Christ, and Oscar Brewer as Assistant House Managers. Our Social Work Team helped to connect our guests to social services and assisted approximately 40% of our guests to find permanent housing. At this stage of reporting we have raised over $30,000 in donations, almost $20,000 in grants, and $18,000 in re-reimbursements from the county. As there are still bills outstanding we have not closed our books on this year’s shelter, but are confident that there will be a small balance to further the work of REACH. Now that we have had the experiences of these past three winters, we are hoping that we can now find ways to advocate for this population and bring about substantial changes in the treatment of the homeless in our region.

We have been blessed by the presence of two TIAR Board members, Heide Parreno and Becky Elwell, and recently Ed Lemon. We are also very thankful for the generous support of the board these past three years.

Contact: Peter W. Peters, Co-chair


As a member of the Rochester Coalition to Reduce Gun Violence, TIAR members helped with the planning and attendance at the commemoration of the Sandy Hook shootings on December 14, 2017 and at the March for our Lives in response to the Parkland, Florida shootings on March 24, 2018. Approximately 5000 persons participated in the March. Members are continuing to support the passage of a Safe Firearms Storage Act for Monroe County.

Contact: Neil Jaschik

2016-2017 President's Report



The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester is an advocacy group that campaigns for social justice. We use physical presence, letter writing, lobbying, speaking to groups and attending rallies.  We view that governance should have a moral budget that supports those in need. We congratulated County Executive Cheryl DiNolfo for the increased aid for child care subsidies, and Mayor Lovely Warren for her proclaiming Rochester to be a sanctuary city. 






RCRGV (Rochester Coalition for Reduced Gun Violence)

RCRGV is in a stage of development.  TIAR helped create RCRGV and has given leadership to the coalition. While the coalition is growing we are active in programs. TIAR supports efforts of the coalition and works to publicize events. As events grow there will be more visibility and greater impact in our community.


REACH (Rochester Emergency Action Committee for the Homeless)

The Alliance was active in supporting the effort to house the homeless. We donated funds and supported religious groups and individuals to help provide meals. At the beginning of the year REACH determined that they needed to become an advocate for Housing First. TIAR is working with this advocacy effort. Second, there is a workshop planned for the fall to educate caregivers regarding their understanding and use of the plan for Housing First.



We joined RocACTS as an extension of our advocacy. RocACTS is composed of faith and other organizations as members. TIAR is composed of individuals from various faith groups. By working closely with this organization we felt that we can have more impact with our advocacy.



TIAR supports this endeavor along with the League of Women Voters and other civic and faith groups. During presidential election years, RVA organizes non-partisan voter registration campaigns in local areas where there is low voter turnout.


FEPC (Fair Campaign Practices Committee).

Along with the League of Women Voters, the Alliance works to encourage fair and honest elections by asking candidates to pledge not to use unfair tactics or advertising materials during the campaign. When there are complaints, a bi-partisan panel reviews the information and then publishes its findings regarding whether each complaint is valid or not.




Letters were sent to Mayor Warren supporting the city's decision to be a Sanctuary City.



New York State



New York State was one of only two states to incarcerate 16- and 17-year-olds in adult prisons. Again, letters were sent as we mobilized with other groups to “Raise the Age” to 18. Now a recent law has been enacted to treat them like the youth they are, and not as a part of the adult criminal justice system. This prevents youth from being labeled as criminals and ruining their lives before they are old enough to judge the ramifications of their acts.






At this year's Annual Meeting we are focused on the impact on people’s lives when they are caught up in the threat of being deported and afraid of being separated from their families. The political climate has changed toward immigrants. Supporting these individuals is important so that the United States can live up to its welcoming of the stranger.




Elizabeth Osta               RETREAT -- IDENTIFYING FOCUS for 2016-2017


Bryan Acuff                  HOUSING FOR THE HOMELESS








Respectfully submitted,

Becky Elwell, President

2015-2016 President's Report


The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester is an advocacy group that campaigns for social justice. Our
Op / Ed in the Democrat and Chronicle talked about the injustices of our local government in the
treatment of children and the poor by the reduction of funds for child care. We use physical
presence and educating of the government and the community on the moral wrongs that are
inflicted on the people that impact our lives. WE CAN DO BETTER.

Advocacy Issues Addressed by The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester

We are in the midst of forming a coalition of organizations for reasonable gun laws, RCRGL
This group has organized forums and promoted the necessity of more reasonable gun laws.
Three public forums were held by RCRGL in January, March, May to educate the public
on the Second Amendment, present the impact on families by gun violence, and promote
reasonable gun laws

We with many faiths organized and participated in a Prayer Service based on Pope Francis’
encyclical. Our support for action on climate change includes opposition to hydrofracking, and
we continue this effort by sending letters or visiting our legislators. While supporting the
state’s current ban, we believe that there are still major concerns to be addressed. Members
have attended forums sponsored by the Pachamama Alliance and are encouraged with our
group action


TIAR joined with other organizations to support this project. While the state legislature came
through with an increase of the minimum wage, there is still much to be done. We support this
project, at the national, state and local level, as an effort to help low-wage earners benefit from
a living wage. Members marched, wrote letters, and attended wage board meetings to
encourage our legislators to support the effort.
REACH (Rochester Emergency Action Committee for the Homeless)
TIAR supported this project’s temporary shelter for the homeless with a donation of $500.
Members were encouraged to work with their faith groups to provide food and transportation.
TIAR members donated personal care items to help people upon release from jail or prison.

State Governance

In the Fall, TIAR cosponsored with the League of Women Voters an informational meeting to
educate the public on the pros and cons of convening a constitutional convention as provided
for in the New York State Constitution


Again letters were sent to our state legislators and Governor Cuomo. New York State is one of
only two states that treat minors age 16 17 as adults in criminal cases. We want the age raised
to 18 before the designation of adult is attached.

We continue to write letters to the Governor and State Legislators to end this practice. A
petition was signed by the TIAR President.

TIAR continues as an organizing member of this nonpartisan group, along with the League of
Women Voter and other civic and faith groups. RVA conducts a registration campaign in local
areas where there is low voter turnout. This organization is active only in Presidential election
years; a steering committee has recruited over 175 volunteers and 40 sites for voter registration
this year.

Local Political Action

FECP (Fair Campaign Practices Committee)
TIAR and the League of Women Voters invite candidates to sign a pledge to conduct their
campaign fairly as they run for office. FEPC convenes a panel that allows candidates to register
their complaints about the unfairness of an opponent’s campaign practices. After review, a
finding is published about these practices.

In conjunction with RocACTS we participated in activities promoting better understanding
among races. Activities included attending movies and book discussion groups, and promoting
the creation of venues for Sacred Conversations on racism as individual, institutional and
systemic. By understanding our history, we can better understand the present

Letters were sent to Mayor Warren and Governor Cuomo in affirming their support of refugees
coming to New York State. Letter sent to Senator Schumer indicating our displeasure at his
anti-refugee stand. A presentation was given to the Board on rules and regulations regarding
the immigration process.

Educational Presentations by Speakers at Board Meetings

  • Brigit Hurley (Children's Agenda): SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN’S SABBATH
  • Rev. William Wilkinson (Board Member): ROCHESTER ACTS: BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP
  • Virginia Fifield (Board Member): THE INVISIBLE RACE
  • Rashid Muhammed: ISLAMOPHOBIA: The Muslim experience in the USA
  • Jim Morris (now-retired Catholic Family Center department director): REFUGEE AND IMMIGRATION OBSTACLES
  • Dr. Melody Cofield: LEGACY OF 64
  • James Lawrence (Retired editor of D&C Opinion Page), 2015 Annual Meeting Speaker: “ARE WE WORKING OUR FAITH?”

REGULAR MEETINGS OF TIAR (all Members are welcome)

Executive Committee: 8:30 am, first Tuesday of month at the Golden Fox Restaurant
Board Of Directors: 4:00 5:30pm third Thursday of month at Covenant United Methodist

Respectfully submitted,
Becky Elwell, President

2014-2015 President’s Report




TIAR Continues to support the effort in the FIGHT FOR $15.   This program is a National, state and local  effort to raise the wages of fast food workers and hopes to influence wages of other low wage earners to help them earn a living wage. Members have marched, attended wage board meetings  and also supported the effort  by  writing letters to our legislative leaders and members of the Assembly and the Senate.

SANCTUARY VILLAGE a temporary shelter for the homeless was supported by a $100 donation. Members were also encouraged to work with  their faith group to provide food and transportation.

MONROE COUNTY REENTRY PROGRAM we donate personal care items to help people upon release from jail or prison.


Equality of LGBT, Sent letter to President Obama congratulating him on his initiative to eliminate discrimination for federal worker.  Received letter in return to thank us for our support.

STATE REDISTRICTING Co-Sponsoring an informational meeting with the League of Women Voters to educate the publiC ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ISSUE.   Meeting will be held in the fall.

RAISE THE AGE  Letters were sent to state legislaturers and the Governor in support of raising the age of minors in court from being treated as adults.  Want the age raised to 18 years before the designation of adult is attached.

PREVENT SOLITARY CONFINEMENT President signed petition in TIAR’s name and members were encouraged to sign as an individual.

Co-Sponsor VOTERS ALLIANCE a nonpartisan group, with The League of Women Voters, effort to register voters in local areas where there is low voter  enrollment.  Committee is gearing up  for the Presidential election.. This organization is only active in Presidential election years

Other Issues


We continue to work on anti-fracking .  State Governor agreed with with governmental study indicating the downside of fracking and banned large scale and banned large scale fracking.  The work continues on banning the activity near water supplies of Syracuse and New York City.  While the ban on fracking has been accomplished we believe there are still items to be addressed for unplanned harmful effects on the environment and we continue to go to meetings and send letters to our legislatures. We also cosponsored event “”New Yorkers Against Fracking” in Albany Environmental justice through Active Nonviolence.

We co sponsored a PASHAMAMA symposium with Nazareth Hickey Center and the  Pashamama Alliance.  Pashamama helping  io providing a venue to promote “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream”


FECP, FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES, We co sponsor with the League of Women Voters  We invite local candidates to conduct fair practices as they run for office.  The committee serves as a means where candidates may; register their complaints of unfair practices and serve as a mediator for these complaints.  We are particularly active during the Presidential year of election


We have written letters to our legislature and Governor. for SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE in our continued effort to gain health coverage for our uninsured citensenary.  We also wrote letters to our Federal legislature and President in support of the bills in the congress. Thank you letters were sent Assemblyman Gantt and Bronson.who sponsored the Assembly bill.  President signed letter in support of the CHIP initiative.


In our effort to educate ourselves to be better attuned to racial bias      MetroJustice  provided Jon Greenbaum and Tracy Farmer to lead our three sessions. to view each of our programs through a “Racial Justice Lens”  Understanding racism as both individual and systemic


Letter in support of Mayor of Rochester, Lovely Warren, in her support of migrant children being housed in Rochester due to the lack of areas opening there areas to the children.. Letter in support of President Obama Executive Order in providing safe harbor for the Dreamers.



  •  Rev. Lewis Stewart  -POLICE REFORM COALITION
  •  Joyce Herman and Sue Sarapilic - PASHAMAMA
  •   George Payne - GANDHI EARTH; KEEPERS
  •   Jon Greenbaum and Tracey; Farmer - RACIAL DIALOGUE
  •   Verdis La Far Robinson -THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD







Meetings of The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester (TIAR) Board of Directors are held on the third Thursday of the month, September through May, at the Covenant United Methodist Church on Culver Road near Parsells at 4:00 in the afternoon.

Meetings of the Executive Committee are held on the first Tuesday of the month in the back room of the Golden Fox Restaurant on Culver Road near Parsells at 8:30 in the morning. 

All members are welcome at any of these meetings.   For news of meetings and other events, go to our web site:  www.tia-roch.org.



  • In response to the controversy regarding the Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act, a subcommittee was formed to study the issue. A report was written and a discussion facilitated by Joyce Herman occurred at the September 20 Board Meeting.


  • TIAR cosponsored “Leaves of Compassion” Workshop presented by the Episcopal diocese.
  • TIAR cosponsored an event organized by the Interfaith Forum and the Sisters of St. Joseph featuring David Cay Johnston whose topic was “Economic Justice and the Faith Community”.
  • TIAR supports the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act proposed in the state legislature and a letter was written to Senator Ted O’Brien to cosponsor this legislation in the New York State Senate.  This legislation would provide one day off per week, overtime pay, disability pay when injured on the job, collective bargaining protections, unemployment insurance, child labor protections and occupational safety and health standards.


  • TIAR continues to participate in the Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice and supports comprehensive immigration. A petition was circulated and signed at the February Board of Directors meeting supporting a path to citizenship, preservation of family unity, legal avenues to enter the United States to work safely with protection of their rights, restoration of due process to our immigration enforcement policies, border policies that are consistent with American Humanitarian Values and effective against illegal migration, and the addressing of root causes of migration.
  • TIAR signed an on-line petition to the “gang of eight Senators” supporting comprehensive immigration reform.  The petition was initiated by New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform and included many of the above points. 
  • TIAR signed an on-line letter to Senator Schumer initiated by the Hebrew Aid Society requesting that refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people be protected in Senate Bill 744, the Comprehensive Immigration Bill.


  • During the public comment period, TIAR submitted comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the proposed regulations dealing with natural gas drilling. Two areas of concern were addressed: allowance of gas operators to request, as trade secrets, exemptions to disclose specific elements of hydraulic fracturing fluid and the stated setback distance of gas well pads from private water wells and dwellings which did not appear to be adequate.
  • TIAR signed a letter to Governor Cuomo in conjunction with Fracaction and New Yorkers Against Fracking applauding him for committing to confront climate change following Hurricane Sandy and encouraging him to pursue clean energy policies in New York State.
  • TIAR submitted comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation on the proposed Unit Management Plan for Hemlock and Canadice watershed requesting that a statement prohibiting oil and gas drilling activities in the Hemlock-Candice Lakes watershed be written into the Unit Management Plan and that it be designated a Unique Area and a State Nature and Historic Preserve to protect its undeveloped nature.
  • TIAR cosponsored the forum “Hydrofracking As Seen Through the Lens of Public Health” held in May and presented by R-Cause.  TIAR participates in the R-Cause coalition, a local organization whose goal is to educate about the risks associated with slick-water high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).


  • In December 2012, TIAR cosponsored Human Rights Day organized by the Rochester Human Rights Committee.  The topic was “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”  
  • TIAR cosponsored an event featuring Tim Wise, a prominent anti-racist author, educator and CNN correspondent.  His topic was “Color-Blind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.”


  • In an expression of sympathy to the SIKH community regarding the shootings that occurred in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, several Directors attended the Memorial Service held by the SIKH community of Rochester.  Sr. Gratia L’Esperance and Robert Herman both spoke at the service. Condolence letters were sent to both Gurdwaras in the Rochester area.
  • The subcommittee formed to study the United States’ use of drones presented their report to the Board of Directors at the October 18 Board Meeting. It was adopted with the recommendations to authorize the subcommittee to continue to monitor the production and use of drones abroad and home and propose action for the Board to take when and if such action might be called for and to encourage individual members of TIAR to contact their local officials to ask the Obama Administration questions about the lethal use of drones abroad.
  • TIAR cosponsored “Resist Global Wars Drones Empire Event” conference in Syracuse which took place April 26-28.
  • A letter was sent to President Obama, Representative Chris Collins, Representative Louise Slaughter, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Kristen Gillibrand advocating gun safety regulation following the shootings of children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut.


  • Rochester Voter Alliance (RVA) is a coalition of TIAR, the League of Women Voters, and other groups whose mission is to register, educate, and turn out voters.  During the 2012 campaign season, volunteers registered 3, 259 individuals; of those who were registered 2,299 actually voted—almost 71%.


  • The Board of Directors continued to donate personal care items to people re-entering society from prison.


  • During the 2012 campaign season, TIAR again cosponsored and participated in the Fair Election Practices Campaign (FEPC) with the League of Women Voters.  The purpose of the FEPC is to encourage honest and civil debate among candidates.  In addition to the usual review of complaints from candidates in local campaigns, the FEPC for the first time included the Congressional campaign of Maggie Brooks and Louise Slaughter which resulted in a greatly increased number of hearings and findings.  Media coverage was very supportive of the work of the FEPC. 


  • The Board heard a presentation from a representative from Foodlink about their various programs and how they serve the hungry in the area.
  • A subcommittee was formed to determine a focus for dealing with poverty in Rochester. One outcome was a presentation to the Board of Directors from the Eastern Service Workers Association about the impact of the cost of utility rates on poor people.  A petition to the Public Service Commission requesting adjustments and waivers was circulated to the Directors for signing.
  • The Board of Directors heard a presentation from the Director of the Public Defender’s Office.  He stated that there were about two hundred people per year who cannot afford bail and so remain incarcerated at a high cost to themselves, their families and the county. The Public Defender’s Office hopes to establish a not-for-profit bail fund that would provide bail for needy individuals who have to post $100 or $200 bond.
  • Several Directors attended the local “Nuns on the Bus” Poverty tour.  A caravan of vehicles, which included a vehicle with a TIAR sign, traveled to various agencies that work with the poor in Rochester.
  • TIAR continued to cosponsor the Children’s Sabbath, which occurred in October.  The Children’s Sabbath is sponsored by the Children’s Agenda.  It is a time to pray, learn about and act on poverty and other problems facing children in Rochester.


  • TIAR continued to cosponsor and contribute to the Global Citizenship Program presented by the Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth College.  The conference is for high schools students and it is designed to teach tolerance and religious literacy.  Several Directors again participated as volunteers.

Respectfully submitted,
Mary Pizzente-Morich
June 9, 2013