Please join us in person or virtually to honor Sharon Hunter-Smith as she retires from the staff of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN). Come enjoy music, food and drink, as we share stories and celebrate Sharon’s history of accompaniment for human rights in our hemisphere and CRLN’s continuing commitment to this vision.
In-Person: Please RSVP to let us know if you can join us in person at https://bit.ly/CRLNRSVPPlease plan to wear a mask indoors to protect everyone. Socially distant seating will be available.
Virtually:To join the program virtually at 4:30 please register in advance at:https://bit.ly/TributeProgram. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Please send any videos, photos or greetings for Sharon to Marilyn McKenna at firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in her keepsake album. Also feel free to add a greeting or photo to the album at the event.
Richard ‘Dick’ Heidkamp(May 9, 1931 – March 12, 2022) Ann R. Heidkamp(Dec 27, 1930 – Feb 28, 2021)
Remembering Dick & Ann
A Reflection Written for the March 18, 2022 Celebration of the Lives of Dick and Ann Heidkamp
by Sharon Hunter-Smith
CRLN has been truly blessed to have the active participation of Dick Heidkamp as a member, Board member, and volunteer. “A life of service,” while an accurate description of Dick’s values and actions, just doesn’t begin to capture the exuberant experience we all had around Dick. Yes, he offered service to our organization, but everything he did with seriousness of purpose and dedication to peace and justice also felt much more like a dance party or a night at a comedy club, especially when he showed up with his wife Ann, the straight person in their comedy routine.
Dick was a skilled fundraiser and a terrific FUN-raiser, as Ann herself once said. As a fundraiser, Dick served on our Board’s Development Committee and coordinated CRLN’s 25th Anniversary Campaign. He accompanied us on visits to potential donors and taught us his craft. He taught us that we could do more than we thought we could and that people appreciated the opportunity to hear about and support our programs. Dick also threw himself into planning for CRLN’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, securing the venue, finding vendors to provide the beer, and helping to do set up and then welcoming people to the event.
Then there were the days when he and Ann came into the office to help with mailings. Putting labels and stamps on envelopes, folding and inserting letters and reports—not exactly everyone’s idea of a good time—but if Dick and Ann were coming, everyone looked forward to participating. They always insisted on bringing treats with them, and their banter with each other and funny storytelling changed the mailing workdays into a party. Pretty soon, they would have us all laughing.
Dick attended our educational events, showed up for our demonstrations against militarism and for human rights in Latin America, and went on our delegations to Cuba (pictured here), El Salvador, and Guatemala. He would often bring others along with him—he was like the Pied Piper for CRLN events. At the 25th Anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination, he was with us on a delegation to El Salvador. The large outdoor area where the commemoration events were going to take place was filled with people inspired by Archbishop Romero, both from El Salvador and from many other countries. Salvadoran folk music was playing to give people something to listen to while they waited, and suddenly, in the crowd behind us, we saw a circle of people forming, laughing and clapping. Guess who was in the middle? Dick Heidkamp with a wide smile, dancing with a someone he had pulled from the crowd. He was a one-man ambassador, evoking friendship and joy.
Dick was an outsized personality with extraordinary energy and an outsized heart for adults; for children; for those suffering from poverty, oppression or discrimination; and also for cats and for his backyard vegetable garden. His love for Ann and hers for him was often expressed in teasing each other mercilessly, always with huge smiles on their faces. We miss them greatly already, but are so thankful we were able to walk together on the same path for so many years.
In a2015 interview for Story Corp Dick and Ann recounted how they first met and fell in love.You can access that interview HERE.
CRLN has worked with other organizations on a workshop for Ecumenical Advocacy Days called Crisis and Hope: Activists Organizing for Rights in Guatemala and Honduras for Wednesday April 27 from 10:00 – 10:45 am CDT
In Guatemala, brave activists, judges, and prosecutors confront a rapidly-closing space to defend rights and the rule of law. They are being jailed, threatened, and forced into exile by corrupt actors in government, security forces, and the private sector. In Honduras, after a dozen years in which corrupt and abusive governments committed grave abuses and restricted space for civil society to organize, a newly-elected government working with social movements offers hope. Corruption and human rights abuses are major factors driving massive migration from these countries.
This workshop will teach the audience about the immediate human rights situation in Guatemala and Honduras, featuring leading activists from each country. It will also answer the question, What is the U.S. role and how can you encourage our government to support, rather than undermine, the activists working for positive change?
Speakers: Claudia Samayoa from the Guatemalan human rights group UDEFEGUA (confirmed) and Miriam Miranda or other Afro/indigenous leader from Honduran Garifuna organization OFRANEH (to be confirmed); Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group (confirmed);
Moderator, Giovana Oaxaca, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (confirmed).
Time: Wednesday, April 27 10:00-10:45 CDT
Sponsored by: Latin America Working Group, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Interpreter: Kathy Ogle (confirmed). Language: Spanish to English, English to Spanish for speakers.
Monitor: Yadira Sánchez-Esparza (confirmed)
Claudia Virginia Samayoa is human rights defender and a lay leader committed to justice in Guatemala. She is the founder and president of the Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos – Guatemala (UDEFEGUA, the Unit for the Protection for Human Rights Defenders – Guatemala) and Vice President of the Executive Committee of the World Organization against Torture (OMCT). She is widely considered as an expert on human rights in Guatemala and the Central American region, having received various international awards for her work. She spends most of her time researching and supporting human rights defenders and organizations in Latin American by strengthening their skills for self-protection. She is an active member of the Archdiocesan Commission of The Social Ministry of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Guatemala. She has completed postgraduate work in public policy and theology, as well as authored several books.
For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
CRLN is undergoing a time of transition. All of the CRLN staff and I know all of you are sad that we will no longer have Sharon Hunter-Smith as one of our core staff. I am sure for many of you Sharon practically is CRLN. She has been a central part of the organization for over 16 years. It is difficult for us to imagine CRLN without Sharon playing such a significant role in our day-to-day work. Yet at the same time, we feel much joy at being present for the next stage of Sharon’s life, a much-deserved break from the duties she has so faithfully carried out each day for more than a decade and a half. I am purposely avoiding words of farewell here as they are so inappropriate in this case, as we know Sharon will remain a part of the extended CRLN family. On behalf of the CRLN staff and membership, I offer a collective message of deep gratitude for so many years of service to the mission of CRLN. They have born great fruit.
Just like most transitions the closing of one chapter is also the opening of a new one. As we mark Sharon’s departure we welcome aboard our new Latin America Program Coordinator, Jhonathan Gómez. I know many of you already know Jhonathan, but for those who do not, I wanted to offer a few words on his background. Jhonathan F. Gómez is a human rights defender, documentary photographer, artist, educator and father from Guatemala City. Jhonathan has worked with community and human rights organizations in Guatemala and the United States for nearly 15 years. Both his professional and personal work combine arts, multimedia and technology for the defense of human rights with a focus on immigrant and indigenous rights. Jhonathan, his partner, and their two children returned to Chicago in May of 2021 after living in Guatemala for 10 years. In Chicago, Jhonathan has worked as an arts youth educator and as a day laborer organizer with Union Latina de Chicago (Latino Union of Chicago). In Guatemala, he worked as the Coordinator of the Communications and Technology area for the Human Rights Observatory Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala (Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit of Guatemala, UDEFEGUA). Jhonathan is not new to CRLN, in 2007 he participated in the formation of the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition (CNSC) and has continued to support CRLN ever since. He is delighted to join the team and be part of CRLN’s legacy work of solidarity with Latinomérica. We are very excited to welcome Jhonathan to our staff and look forward to the great work we will do together to further both his personal and our organizational mission of defending the human rights of all “Americans”, including those within our national borders and those across the hemisphere.
CRLN is looking for a part-time Administrative Assistant to join our staff of four that coordinate an interfaith education, action, and advocacy network. Please share this announcement with your networks and communities.
For over 30 years, CRLN has worked to open spaces for the voices of those in the Americas affected by U.S. policies and has worked in solidarity with movements for social justice and human rights. Through educational events, delegations, speaker tours, and regular issue updates, CRLN educates and mobilizes to empower people to advocate for positive changes in U.S. policy in the Americas with elected city, state and federal officials.
CRLN is an equal opportunity employer, dedicated to a policy of nondiscrimination in employment on any basis including race, creed, color, age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, ability or national origin. Women and people of color are encouraged to apply.
Unase a nosotros en el Evento Anual de CRLN con Danilo Rueda de la Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz
Sábado, 13 de Noviembre a las 5:30 pm en vivo por zoom
Acompáñenos para ver a Danilo Rueda, el secretario ejecutivo de la organización ecuménica colombiana, la Comisión Intereclesial de Justica y Paz. Hablará, sobre la huelga nacional y las protestas largas de este año. Las fuerzas de la seguridad en Colombia han atacado a manifestantes, matado a 43 individuos, desaparecido a decenas y ahora están criminalizando a centenares de activistas. Los que luchan por la paz exigen un país seguro con infraestructura para todos, apoyo socioeconómico para los pobres y un proceso de responsabilidad para los que cometieron crímenes contra los derechos humanos durante la larga guerra civil. El Sr. Rueda hablará sobre lo que detonó las protestas y cómo podemos apoyar a los activistas y su visión de la justicia social y la paz.
Defensor de derechos humanos y de paz social y ambiental. Comunicador social. Realizó estudios de filosofía, teología, educación y de pos grado en Estudios políticos. Ha sido profesor de la Universidad Javeriana y Externado de Colombia. Redactor de Actualidad Colombiana. Columnista y colaborador en medios indepedientes. Fue integrante del Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos. Ha sido secretario técnico de la iniciativa Colombianas y Colombianos por la Paz. En la actualidad es Secretario Ejecutivo de la Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, J&P. Director del medio virtual Contagio Multimedia. Es integrante de Defendamos la Paz. Promotor del Pacto por la Vida y la Paz, y del Acuerdo Humanitario Global. Es representante de víctimas ante el Sistema Interamericanos de Derechos Humanos.
Nuestro evento es gratuito pero es necesario registrarse. Regístrese aquí y obtenga más información sobre cómo donar, patrocinar o colocar un anuncio en el libro del programa aquí.
Join us for the CRLN Annual Event with Danilo Rueda from the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz
Saturday, November 13, 5:30 pm live on Zoom
Join us to see Danilo Rueda, Executive Secretary of the Colombian ecumenical organization Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz. He will talk about the national strike and this year’s long, largely peaceful protests. Colombian security forces have attacked protesters, killed at least 43, disappeared dozens, and are now criminalizing hundreds of activists. Peacemakers are demanding safety, basic infrastructure for all communities, social support for those in need, and a process of accountability for the human rights crimes committed during the long civil war. Mr. Rueda will speak about why the protests broke out and how we can support peacemakers and their vision of social justice and peace.
Danilo Rueda is a defender of human rights and of social and environmental peace. He studied philosophy, theology, education, and did postgraduate work in political science. He has been a professor both at the Universidad Javeriana and at Externado de Colombia, editor of Actualidad Colombiana, and a columnist and contributor to independent media. He was a member of the Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos and has been technical secretary of the Colombianas y Colombianos por la Paz initiative. He is currently Executive Secretary of the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz and serves as Director of the online media group, Contagio Multimedia. He is a member of Defendamos la Paz and a promoter of the Pacto por la Vida y la Paz and of the Acuerdo Humanitario Global. He is the representative of victims before the Inter-American Human Rights System.
Our event is free but registration is required. Register and learn more about donating, sponsoring or placing an ad in the program book HERE.
We share with you the open letter in Spanish by the 20 member organizations of the Alianza Americas network, that CRLN signed together addressed to the President of México Andrés Manuel López Obrador, where he is urged to implement humane migration policies.
Compartimos la carta abierta dirigida al presidente de México Andrés Manuel López Obrador, la cual fue realizada por las 20 organizaciones de la red Alianza Americas a la cual CRLN miembra, donde se le pedide que implemente políticas migratorias humanas.