Interfaith activists celebrate social justice at ACTS spring banquet in L’pool

— Central New York boasts a rich history of social activism, and the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS) keeps that tradition alive.

More than 300 ACTS members, honorees and supporters filled the ballroom at the Holiday Inn at Electronics Parkway on Thursday, April 25, at the group’s sixth annual spring banquet.

“This is an incredible sight,” exclaimed Mark Spadafore as he gazed out at the crowd from the podium. “There are people from different communities, people from different races and people from different faith traditions. Everyone coming together like this shows us that we have power, and power can change things.”

Spadafore, who lives in Liverpool, was there representing Service Employees International Union Local 1199 to present one of four Social Justice Leadership Awards to Helen Hudson, the founder of Syracuse’s Mothers Against Gun Violence. The other three 2013 honorees were Imam Khalil Abdulkhabir, the longtime chaplain at Auburn and Mid-State corrections facilities; Syracuse inner-city grocer Paul Nojaim; and Peggy Liuzzi, the executive director of Child Care Solutions.

ACTS is an inter-faith, urban-suburban coalition of more than 40 churches and activist organizations which join together to address social, economic, educational and political concerns. Formed in 2002, its mission statement cites three shared values: human worth, dignity and justice.

To accomplish its goals, ACTS has formed three task forces, one each to tackle issues regarding public education, criminal justice and food access.

While the majority of the groups which comprise ACTS are from the city of Syracuse, a few, such as Liverpool’s St. Joseph the Worker Roman Catholic Church, are from the suburbs.

St. Joseph’s was well-represented at the April 25 banquet with parishioners such as Spadafore, Eileen Brody, Terry Cardinal, Mark Cass, Karen and Warren Machell, Pat and Tom Negus, Marty Ours, Dot Schuler, Joan Wilson and Jennifer Woodburn.

Local elected officials such as County Legislator Judy Tassone, Assemblyman Sam Roberts and Assemblyman Al Stirpe also attended.

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