Steve West, Founder, has been involved in social justice causes since his youth. Mr West integrated his career between entrepreneurial social justice volunteering and business. A leader in the Fair Housing Movement of the 1960s, he took on world hunger in the 1980s. At the same time he focused on third world development and has been involved with that since 1980. West’s unique experiences in social justice issues gives him a unique perspective for working in underserved communities.
Steve initiated the first Fair Housing Group in the United States in 1962. This was the model for the movement which grew quickly and after 6 years the humble beginning became the law of the land that exists today. In 1982 Steve Co-Founded and became the Executive Director of Impact On Hunger, one of the two major world anti-hunger educational organizations of the day. Perhaps Mr Wests most informative experience is his forty plus years involvement with one of the world’s premier third world self-development organizations, Sarvodaya Shramadana. Alongside these activities Steve started and grew four businesses.
At 80 years of age, Steve says he’s finally reached “middle-age”. An active competitive singles tennis player, our founder works tirelessly for social justice. He has extraordinary energy and an optimistic outlook. Steve regards himself as a Social Justice Entrepreneur.
STEVE WEST’S APPLICATION FOR OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS 2021 SOROS EQUALITY FELLOWSHIP:
Name: Steve West
E-mail Address: Steve@therationalmajority.org
Phone Number: 561-499-0974 Office 561-701-4661 Cell
Mailing Address: 7264 Cataluna Circle, Delray Beach, Florida, 33446
Project Title: The IN-CROWD
Project Summary (no more than one paragraph): Contribute to the transformation of PBC into a true home of equal opportunity and justice for ALL our residents.
1939: Born April 20th in New Your City to Henry & Dorothy West
1939 – 1944: Home school and nursery school. Mother was a mega-ADL activist
1944 – 1956: Unremarkable public education. Parents advised I was a “late bloomer”
1956 – 1961: Unremarkable college education. My curiosity for learning begins post ’61
1960 – 1966 – Served in Army Reserve as clerk typist. Active duty 6 months in Fort Dix.
1960 – 1962: Started my first business, Steve West Camera Club (camera sales)
1962 – 1982: Baby coming, irregular income. Joined start-up Noble Lumber in sales
1968: Attained partnership in Noble Lumber. Noble Lumber goes public.
1982: Sold my stock to partner to give full time to Impact on Hunger
1982 – 2002: Created Homeworks Modular Homes, home construction on Long Island
1998 – 2002: Created Modular Center, Early (if not first) national modular home full service company.
2002: Retired from business
2013 – 2018: CEO of Hammerhead Engineering, startup motorcycle accessory Co
2017 – Pres: Write the Opinion Column every other week for Sun Sentinel mag
SOCIAL JUSTIC EXPERIENCE
1962 – 1968: Founded and led the world’s first Fair Housing Group
1963 – 1968: Above became L.I. Council for Integrated Housing
1968: Our groundbreaking work led to Title VIII of U.S. Civil Rights Act
1966 – 1970: Appointed Chairman, Brentwood Board Of Education Advisory Board
1978 – 1981: Hunger Project. Most prolific enroller (Included John & Yoko Lennon)
1980 – Present: Sarvodaya Shramadana, Peace & Development org of Sri Lanka
1981 – 1986: Founder & Ex Director Impact On Hunger, world hunger education org
1988 – 1993: Resuscitated Sarvodaya U.S.A. at request of Dr. Ariyaratne (SUSA))
1994 – 2002: Concert co-promoter “From The Heart” benefit L.I Arena R&B concerts
2007 – Present: The Forum, Twice monthly Community Seminars with
2018 – 2019: March For Our Lives advisor
2018 – Present: Mothers Against Murderers Assn, gun violence prevention, etc
2020 – Present: Founder and Managing Partner, The IN-CROWD
SOME HOBBIES & INTERESTS
Finding the roots of civilization
Phono Record Collection – Smithsonian call it “The Sound Track of the 20th Century”
World travel with wife Judy (currently on long term covet protection suspension)
SECTION 1 (Vision & Need)
√ the issue your project will address
The existence of systematic racism, sometimes overt, sometimes unnoticed by the public or even the perpetrators themselves. This condition creates an environment that literally breeds and nourishes unequal opportunity and unequal dispensation of justice. Systematic racism can only be eliminated by changing the system which can best be done by transforming the atmosphere that injustice lives in.
√ why this issue is important?
The existence of this societal disease negatively affects the lives of all Americans, especially victimizing African Americans and other ”minorities” who are held back from reaching their individual and communal potential. Quality of life issues such as education, housing, nourishment, employment, medical care, etc. are not equally available – while law enforcement is too abundant and harshin many cases.
These symptoms are easy to identify, but not so simple to overcome. Many have persisted for generations despite valiant efforts to “fix” them. Perhaps we’re approaching the problem from the wrong direction? For the most part we attack the symptoms and ignore the disease. The IN-CROWD’s actions are focused on the underlying cause so the work of those fighting for equity will do so in a more friendly environment to bring about permanent transformation.
Allow me to use a parable to explain. The mythical hydra has many heads that breathe fire and destruction. One hero after another takes their sword and shield onto the field of combat to cut off a head. The problem is that even if they succeed another head grows back doubly. The heads are the symptom while the medium the hydra lives in is the disease. When we understand and deal with the underlying condition of systemic racism heads will roll, but not until then.
methods for addressing the issue
We are focused on transforming the atmosphere in which the monster flourishes. The hydra thrives mostly in underserved neighborhoods, yet it is a blight upon our entire land. We are bringing all sectors of our county together to transform attitudes and expectations of what is possible.
Our weapons are INformation, INspiration, and INvolvement. By unifying our residents in common cause beneath the banner of Opportunity and Justice, we will poison the beast’s habitat and empower the front line heroes to battle and defeat the weakened and dying monster of systemic racism.
how you expect your project will influence and advance the racial justice field
Most warriors are busy doing yeoman’s work attacking one hydra head. Each sees one issue as the path to victory. Few work specifically to transform the medium that gives each head its power. The IN-CROWD is turning the warriors heads for a united attack strategy.
√ extensive background research on the issue
Packing 60+ years of active involvement into 3000 words is a challenge. To cut duplication I ask you to refer to Section 4Section 4.
How do you expect your project will influence and advance the racial justice field
I have begun this experiment in Palm Beach County Florida. My intention is to ultimately offer it out as an interactive electronic mentoring guide to any community that requests it. This clearinghouse approach will allow for both improvement and refinement of our original methods. The interactive feature will accommodate differences in places with different conditions.
SECTION 2 (Challenges and Opportunities)
√ Please describe potential challenges or difficulties that you think may impact your ability to advance this project?
Taking on a broad and deep challenge means anticipating and possible difficulties such as:
- Disinterest, lack of motivation, or cynicism – even by those who’ll directly benefit.
- Individual and/or organizational ego of Partners and clients.
- Money requirements diminishing the message and trust.
- Perception that the goals are too big and comprehensive.
√ How do you plan to address these challenges?
A challenge is the other side of a coin named opportunity. We manage these possible challenges before they materialize by flipping the coin in advance to the opportunity side. None of these potentials have been significant problems to date. I am watchful for them understanding that they are a natural part of the process. The IN-CROWD is designed to avoid or mitigate these possible challenges by anticipating and mastering them.Such is important to our long term success. Our culture of everyone moving together towards a common goal is a preemptive guardrail. Reminding each other of our ethos is another. More specifically:
DISINTEREST: We work with the interested knowing that others will follow when they see results.
EGO: We’re united behind a goal that is bigger than personal or organizational egos. If I see an ego rising we respectfully discuss it.
MONEY: The IN-CROWD has simply removed money from our equation. No money in, no money out. (Please see Section 5 “Budget” for more on this)
GOALS TOO EXPANSIVE: Our weekly zooms and personal conversations with the doubtful have solved this potential problem. All our Partners are enrolled in the achievability. It may slow some of the public down but engagement in action and good results will turn around most skepticism. The IN-CROWD is structured to be comprehensive, both broad and deep. We are an idea for people to rally around and not an organization. We support but do not engage in the many components. That is the job of the Partners, each in their own way and all toward the same destination. As soon as someone “gets” the concept it all falls into place for them.
√ What are the unique opportunities related to your project in this moment and how will it be transformative?
This is the moment. For the past four years we’ve lived in the tails side of the coin. The single event that flipped us to heads was the George Floyd murder. Subsequent events have helped cause a new awareness and commitment against racism. In all my years of involvement I’ve not experienced such a broad public disgust with so many desiring to act for change. With the results of the 2020 election the coin has landed on “heads” this time.
Our job is to raise realistic hope and expectations so people can own and share the vision of a transformed and positive future. That vision must be followed up by delivering on our promises.
√ Are there any security/safety/etc. risks associated with your project?
We have no security or safety issues that I can see except the virus. We are always on guard against the virus. We do no face to face work at this time.
SECTION 3 (Timeline and Impact)
√ “Provide a timeline that sets forth the project’s specific activities and reflects all phases of the project.
The IN-CROWD vision was an epiphany the day after the Floyd murder on May 25th, 2020. In a flash I saw clearly that the wind had shifted. It was not only the moment to take back the territory lost in the last four years, it was time to fulfill the founders’ aspirational promise that all people need the opportunity to reach their potential.
The vision was full-blown in my mind but the details needed thought. It took three months of thinking, listening, learning, and polishing. I sought and listened to opinions from several sources, especially my inner city friends.
The goal had to be large and challenging; but at the same time, motivational, aspirational, and attainable. People of good faith need to partner in purpose. We’d need to INform, INspire, and INvolve people. That flowed into the name “IN-CROWD”. Our mission – Make Palm Beach County a HOME OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.
We needed to build a sustained grass roots movement with every willing resident informed, and inspired to be involved. I had no access to the residents but I knew people who did. I decided to defy standard organizing thinking and start at the top by persuading influential people and decision makers to stand in front of, rather than behind, the movement. Using their access to the people, we would build a substantial megaphone to every corner of the community.
I decided to limit the geography to PBC, as the laboratory to put the vision to the test of practical application. In my home county I was at worst only two or three degrees of separation from every leader. It would be easy to at least put their name behind the effort, but would they merely lend their names, or own the mission? To date, many have been moved to become deeply involved to the level they now see themselves as IN-CROWD Partners and Change Makers.
The “My Pledge” (see sample above) is the binding device. People make a self-commitment to the goal. Ultimately designed for all residents, the Pledge is Initially directed at the leadership and is working as planned.
THE FOUNDATION: From September to January I’ve organized and built a unified infrastructure of PBC Leaders and Change Makers. I expanded a one man operation into a strong Partnership encompassing leaders from many aspects of county life that Includes various ethnicities, religions, political persuasions. law enforcement, office holders, major organizations, local NGOs and agencies, activists, educators, artists, mentors, etc. We meet weekly on Zoom where ideas are exchanged and synergy flows from inter-partner communication; an mainly we prepare for the public rollout before March first.
ERECTING OUR HOME: We’re about to start reaching out to our neighbors (the public). Through the existing communication facilities of our clergy and lay Partners we’ll get out the word widely. Flooding the county with INformation and INspiration will provide INvolvement opportunities for both donors and recipients. Our Partner 211.org offers a varied menu of projects to choose from. Repeated messages from various sources and a varied menu of opportunities for BUILDING BRIDGES will draw both sides of the donation bridge into action.
BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN NEIGHBORS: Summer 2021. Working partnerships develop and inter and intramural activities begin. Included in our plan is encouragement for building personal relationships. Writing a check is nice, building a relationship is profound.
HOUSE WARMING PARTY: Indeterminate date before spring 2022. Transformation is in the air. Drug gangs are gone, gardens and fresh paint brighten formally blighted neighborhoods. The fear has lifted and shops are opening. Although we have far to go, Ww are confident we’ll get there. Local leadership has assumed full control of the Movement. County Commissioners declare “JUSTICE FOR ALL” Day. Multiple planned and spontaneous celebrations throughout the County celebrate the new spirit in our shared Home.
SHARING OUR SUCCESS: IN-CROWD offers the PBC Electronic Manual and support to any other communities who want it, This service will be offered it at no charge.
√ Please provide a summary of the anticipated impact of your fellowship after the 18-month grant period.
We will strive to reach the sharing phase within the 18 month Fellowship. Given the current pace and the apparent leadership of the new DC administration I believe that we’ll begin within that time. If I make the interview phase I expect to report on significant growth between today and that time.
√ What changes or influences will your fellowship have upon communities, the racial justice movement or other members in civil society?”
When the beast’s nourishment dies the beast dies. What was impossible before becomes commonplace. New attitudes, resources, leaders appear. Our Partnership’s ultimate test is to realize the vision.
SECTION 4 (Leadership and Networks)
√ “How have your unique experiences (personal, professional, academic, etc.), skills, and networks prepared you to carry out this particular project?
MY LIFE HAS TAUGHT ME THAT BEING OF SERVICE IS THE HIGHEST HONOR
Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Taking a good idea to fruition is priceless. I have a lifetime of turning reverie into reality, and making the “impossible” become the norm. I’ll dangle the promise of my stories to tempt you to invite me into the interview phase. 🙂
My earliest memory of standing up for justice is when I was five years old. I’ll turn 82 when you are reading this. That fire has burned in me every day since.
For sixty years I founded and guided several businesses and social justice ventures. Each has been a lesson in a curriculum that has prepared me for The IN-CROWD.
My skin is pink but I have a lifelong involvement with the African-American community. I am comfortable in any skin and people get that. I have the nature of a unifier blended with the patience of a Gandhi and the persistence of a bulldog. Below is a taste of the experiences that have molded me.
MY FAMILY TAUGHT ME THAT OPPORTUNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL MEANS FOR EVERYBODY
I was brought up in a humanist middle class household. Peaceful Joy came to work as a housekeeper and my caregiver on the day I was born. My father was active in business and my mother with the Anti-defamation League. Joy was a major influence on my life as one of my three parents. We stayed friends in close contact until her death in 1998. My ex-daughter-in-law, Natalie, is African-American as is my dear grandson, Jackie Robinson West.
THE FAIR HOUSING MOVEMENT TAUGHT ME THAT I COULD MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE
My social justice work formally started with my founding of the Long Island Counsel For Integrated Housing which culminated in Title VIII of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1968.
THE HUNGER PROJECT TAUGHT ME THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHANGE AND TRANSFORMATION
In 1978 their vision of ending wold hunger captured my soul. Their mission was educating the public that there was sufficient food for all. After a time,THP began to veer away from the education/motivation model. I left my highly successful business to create “Impact on Hunger” to keep the original mission alive.
IMPACT ON HUNGER TAUGHT ME THAT THE IMPROBABLE WAS EASY AND THE IMPOSSIBLE JUST TOOK PERSISTENCE.
Under my leadership Impact grew spectacularly. We did amazing things. Muhammad Ali became my friend and spokesperson. IOH did many “impossible” projects. After six years my nest egg from the sale of my business ran out. I left to feed my family.
SARVODAYA TAUGHT ME TO THINK HOLISTICALLY AND ACT BOLDLY WHEN TRANSFORMING COMMUNITIES
The Ariyaratne’s have been my professors for the last 40 years. Ari asked me to restart the defunct Sarvodaya U.S.A. I am active with Sarvodaya to this day.
BENEFIT CONCERT PROMOTIONS GAVE ME THE EXPERIENCE OF ORGANIZING COMPLEX VOLUNTEER ENDEAVORS.
For several years around the turn of the century I co-produced large benefit black group harmony concerts. 100% of proceeds went to the honored 1950’s artists.
INVOLVEMENT WITH M. S. DOUGLAS STUDENTS TAUGHT ME HOW A PERFECT BOTTOM UP MOVEMENT STARTS
I organized an ad hoc panel of MSD students and other activists. We spoke at local communities and organizations about gun violence.
MOTHERS AGAINST MURDERERS TAUGHT ME TO THINK GLOBALLY AND ACT LOCALLY
MAMA assists and comforts moms bereaved by gun violence. I’m in charge of prevention. Upon the Floyd murder I felt the wind shifting. I immediately broadened my efforts into The IN-CROWD.
THE IN-CROWD IS TEACHING ME THAT UNITY OF PURPOSE MAKES MIRACLES HAPPEN
The first confirmation of success is seeing PBC leadership attracted by the blend of unity of purpose with a previously unthinkable vision of a transformed future.
MY BUSINESSES TAUCHT ME THAT DOING IT RIGHT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PURSUING MONEY
Principles and ethics in business and social justice endeavors are the same. Creativity, excellence, reliability, honesty, and win/win dealing bring success.
What do you hope to gain from, and contribute to, the Soros Equality Fellowship community?
For me, the Fellowship selection would give The IN-CROWD increased gravitas and credibility, especially when we roll the project out to other places.
I believe I will be a helpful resource for other Fellows and or the SEF community, while learning from them as well. Assuming that I will be an elder, robust dialog between the generations brings value to both..
SECTION 5 (Budget)
√“Briefly outline a budget that shows any project-related expenses, including research and travel costs, supplies, and finishing and distribution costs, as well as expected income from sale of stories or from other funders.
The IN-CROWD has no budget. There is no money in and relatively small amounts out (only from my pocket). We do not solicit or accept donations. We get in-kind donations mainly of volunteer labor. Most of that to date is from community leaders. In an educational/motivational endeavor concentration on fund raising diverts valuable energy from the work and blocks the delivery, and dilutes the impact, of our message.
Note that I have created and directed several social justice enterprises in the past. I have never taken payment for my Social Justice work, and I’m too old to change. Volunteers are committed to the mission and the satisfaction of their contribution is their rich reward.
√ What are the full costs associated with a completed project? The project budget does not necessarily need to be tied to the stipend award and can be more or less depending on the needs and activities.
The IN-CROWD office is a room in my home. We require only local travel, and do our work efficiently on the phone and computer. We are not wealthy, but Judy and I are happy with our moderate lifestyle. My personal payment is my internal satisfaction in making this project a success. I’ll continue my lifelong policy of not using the Fellowship grant personally.
√ In addition, to the extent you anticipate any revenue associated with your project (whether pre-, during, or post-production), please explain (a) the sources of that revenue and (b) how you expect the revenue to contribute to the overall goals of the project. An optional template for your budget is available.”
I presently have no intention of raising money from any other funders. If I am selected the stipend it will be a valuable nest egg that will allow me to draw on rather than taking the money from my own pocket as I am on a modest fixed income. Any balance is likely to be useful when we roll the project out nationally because I intend to share the electronic manual and mentoring services without charge. We will likely need one paid employee at that time, or perhaps before.
Most important is the gravitas that the fellowship would bestow.
SECTION 6 (Commitment)
√ “Describe any non-fellowship work responsibilities (e.g. freelance work, consulting, teaching commitments, etc.) that you expect to have during the course of your fellowship, including the approximate time to be devoted to these commitments.”
I am 81 years old. Judy and I have been married over a quarter century. This is our second marriage. We each have two adult children and 4 grandchildren between us. The kids live in different states.
My only other responsibility is writing a 550 word Opinion Column in the Sun Sentinel Newspaper Saturday magazine every other week. I have been doing that for three years and intend to continue. Other than family, friends, and miscellaneous I am free of other obligations.
I presently work on the IN-CROWD 7 days a week. I am available by phone between 9 AM – 9 PM daily. I usually work until 2 or 3 AM except Saturday when I end my day at 10 PM. in actual work time I always put in between 50 to 100 hours per week – most weeks toward the upper end of the range. I have maintained this sort of schedule through my business and social justice career all my adult life.
I am committed to sleeping 3 to 6 hours a night, TV news stations are on in the background when I work and Judy and I eat all our meals together and spend some time together each day. Otherwise I spend my time working on the IN-CROWD.
I am in excellent health and I have the energy and optimism of an 18 year old. I plan to continue to put in 2 or more times your required hours per week. It’s just my nature.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
To Whom It May Concern:
It gives me great satisfaction to recommend Steve West for the Soros Equality Fellowship to further address racial inequities in today’s social climate. Steve and I have been friends for over 60 years starting during the height of racial inequality in the country. After College we bonded immediately as we shared the same ideology regarding the sting of racial injustices seen and unseen. Being an African American from the south and Steve of Jewish decent, we knew we had to do something other than complain about this disease that plagued our communities.
I consider Steve a Humanitarian as he has spent his lifetime championing the call for all things fair, just and equal. Housing discrimination was running rampant in our Long Island NY community during the tumultuous 60’s. As a result, Steve formed an organization called “The Long Island Council For Integrated Housing” to expose the discrimination practices forced upon those who’s voices were muted by the color of their skin, and/or the language they spoke.
Steve was methodical, steady and displayed a determined leadership style in how he executed the newly formed organization. We worked closely together as I served alongside Steve as Co-Chairman of the Council. Housing discrimination became Steve’s focal point upon learning of consistently high volumes of housing denials, and multiple proclamations of sold or rented properties. Steve’s determination to uncover the rash of denials was unparalleled. His objective was to collect data and test the real estate practices that fostered housing discrimination. We assembled teams of “Checkers”, black couples/white couples to visit real estate companies to determine the consistency of denials to black couples vs. white couples – there were no consistencies. The denials were starkly discriminatory to blacks thus we concluded outright discriminatory practices including “redlining” and “block busting”were in practice. We reported violators to the authorities and punitive actions were taken putting a damper on the practices.
Steve was personally the spark plug for the creation of the Nassau County Civil Rights Commission, the first of its kind in the country, chaired by his friend Farrell Jones, The L.I. Council’s research and activities was brought to the attention of Governer Rockefeller, which became a determining factor for the establishment of the first state “Commission For Human Rights” chaired by Jackie Robinson. Due in part to Steve’s tireless dedication and commitment to racial equality, title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson. This law was in large measure based on the N.Y State model largely developed by the volunteer attorneys of the L. I. Council For Integrated Housing.
I believe my experience as former Superintendent of the Yonkers Public Schools and Council Member being tasked with the successful implementation of the Yonkers, NY school desegregation consent decree, in addition to successfully implementing the Yonkers NY court ordered housing consent decree exemplifies Steve’s mentoring, support, and leadership he has provided me over the years. I cannot image a better recipient of this Fellowship. I enthusiastically recommend him to you.
Joe L. Farmer, Ret. Superintendent of Yonkers Public Schools
Palm Beach County Clergy Association
1700 North Australian Avenue
West Palm Beach, Florida 33407
Phone: (561) 439-3145-office
Fax: (561) 686-4535
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mission: To provide advocacy through education, justice equality, peace, social, economic, & spiritual well-being within our communities. The PBCCA has by special invitation enlisted other Community Leaders and Businesses that share a mutual desire to fulfill our vision to advocate, empower, & uplift the least of them in our respective communities through the love of God.
Re: Steve West
It would be acceptable and understood by most of society if an individual 80 years of age simply relax and enjoy their retirement and twilight years sipping lemonade and enjoying the ambiance of Sandy Beaches, Palm Trees and Beautiful Weather. It would be acceptable and understood by most of society if an individual 80 years of age would remain silent on the sidelines of life’s issues and challenges opting to be a commentator rather than a participant in the oftentimes chaotic and inequitable society that we live in. It would be acceptable and understood by most of society if an individual 80 years of age would just be content with being able to live comfortably and enjoy watching reruns of yesterday on television while proclaiming “those were the days”. I too must admit that I could totally understand why most of society would be accepting and understanding of the aforementioned characterization of an elderly 80-year-old plus individual until you meet this age defying, non-conformist, passionate and compassionate champion of justice and change named Steve West.
I had the pleasure of meeting Steve West back in 2017 when I was introduced to him at a community event. Although he appeared to be a mild soft spoken individual, I would soon discover that I had encountered an individual who was passionate about societal issues, the under dogs, the least, lost and left out. Shortly thereafter, I witnessed Steve compassion and passion in action as he organized a plan and strategy to assist a very worthwhile Non-Profit organization called M.A.M.A- Mothers Against Murderers Association that served mothers who had lost their child due to violence. The thing that stood out to me is that Steve had just met the Founder of the organization and upon taking a tour of their office and being told by their cause; Steve was moved because of the worthwhile cause yet this organization was struggling financially, having no funding but yet serving families in their most difficult times. Steve began to network and contacting members of the community including clergy, business owners and anyone he could to put together a couple of fundraisers to assist. He literally went to “bat” as he organized a Night at The Ball Park where all of the proceeds of the tickets sold for this ball game was given to M.A.M.A. He continued to work with this organization to make sure that they could continue to serve families in their most trying moments of grief and recovery. It didn’t matter to Steve that this organization founder was a black woman or most of the people that had served was black but rather that this organization would remain viable in our community.
Steve West has been an incredible organizer and advocate in making sure that people know their rights, whether voting rights or their rights as residents and tenants inside of a municipality, HOA or club. Steve brings his over 60 years of experience in addressing inequalities, injustices to the table equipping others to use their voice. I can go on and on by Steve but I will conclude by sharing his latest incredible efforts of organizing, galvanizing and empowering others. In June of 2020, our nation witnessed the egregious murder and death of George Floyd at the hands or should I say knee of an unsavory Police Officer in Minnesota. This unjust death shined a spotlight of the social injustice and unfair treatment of black people in America by Law Enforcement and it also signaled to Steve that there was something that must be done and it had to be done by people and organizations that genuinely care and whose mission was to serve the maligned and wanted to ensure that there would be equal opportunity and justice for all. Steve developed and founded a movement called “The IN-Crowd”.
The In-Crowd is actually a concept that has now brought together over 100 groups and organizations that are committed to IN-spire, IN-form while getting IN-volved. These individual and groups share a common thread of building a better community, society, county and neighborhoods where people have access to equal opportunity and justice. In other words, Steve managed to tap into the humanity of individuals and groups that simply want better for all and were willing to Sign a Pledge that we will work united with others of good will until we realize the America that we pledge allegiance to. This group continues to come together meeting by way of Zoom every week bringing together a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-disciplinary group of individuals that share in the common concept that “yes we can make a difference by each of us uniting and sharing information, influence and innovation. Steve has managed to bring Black and White, Brown and Pink, Jews and Muslims, Protestants and Catholics, Young and Seasoned, Bi-Partisans together to the Table of Ideology agreeing that in the words of the African Proverb “Many Hands Makes the Load Lighter”. Steve West is his name but his passion and commitment, leadership and influence has touched and inspired people from all directions and walk of life. As a result of Steve’s leadership; we are getting things done as it relates to community, education, law enforcement, economics and legislation. I for one and glad that Steve does not conform to societal norms and expectations of a 80 Years Plus old individual because he Inspires.
My name is Dr. J.R. Thicklin; President of the Palm Beach County Clergy Alliance and the President and CEO of Destiny By Choice, Inc. and it gives me great pleasure to introduce your organization and the world to the one and only “Steve West”, a man that seeks no recognition but deserves to be recognized. I humbly submit to you that you would consider rewarding him with this such deserved recognition.
I send this email on behalf of Dr.Vinya Ariyaratne, President, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement.
Please find the attached letter of recommendation for your fellowship program.
President’s Office, Sarvodaya