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At 50 Years, CALC Is Young as Ever

New staff at CALC brings youthful energy to a community institution

Local nonprofit (Community Alliance of Lane County) is celebrating its 50 year anniversary, but much of its new leadership is considerable younger that the institution itself. 

Several new staffers at CALC offer youthful exuberance and fresh, modern ideas to a well-established community institution. Adrienne Bennett, 36, is one of those new staffers and was hired this past May. 

Bennett is the major donor and volunteer program coordinator, meaning her position is actually two separate positions. “CALC is really looking to gear up its volunteer base for some things we’re planning to do in 2017, so my job has really been telling the CALC story to the community,” she says.

That story is a complicated one. CALC got its start in 1966 protesting the Vietnam War, and actually began as a chapter of a national religious organization, Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam.

After the end of the war, CALC shifted its focus to the local community, but kept its anti-war, pro-human rights goals. The organization often serves as support for other, smaller organizations within the community.

 Bennett, who is African-American, came to CALC as part of her personal journey for self-fulfillment. “These past couple of years I’ve really realized how much I live in Eugene without really being a part of Eugene. I was an outsider within,” Bennett says. After volunteering with a different organization, she came across the people at CALC and began working with them. “What I really care about is that people have allies in their corners,” she says.

Michael Carrigan, the program director at CALC and an old hand in the organization, says Bennett has been a boon for CALC. “I’m really impressed with her; she’s brought a lot of fresh energy and fresh ideas to help CALC develop,” Carrigan says. “We’re getting a lot of new folks volunteering at CALC thanks to her efforts.”

According to Bennett, the new blood at CALC has created a spike in energy, and the next 50 years look promising. “We’re going to be a central place where people can get plugged into activism, plugged into the process of change.” 

Another new leader at CALC has brought back the Springfield program and engaged youth in the community. Johanis Tadeo is the new coordinator for the Springfield Alliance for Equity and Respect program at CALC (SAFER). Carrigan says, “I was really impressed with how he could recruit young people for the [anti-racism] event.” According to Carrigan, Tadeo lets his youth take the lead and organize events by themselves. 

Tadeo got involved in the summer when youth from his program helped design and paint a mural for CALC. He stayed on after that joint project ended, though he still works closely with youth in Springfield.

Tadeo says he knows how to work with Latino youth because he understands their problems. He’s only 23, and he has lived in Springfield for the past 20 years. The trials of facing racism every day in high school are still fresh in his mind. “There was even a point where I tried to cut the brown skin out to try to be white,” Tadeo says. 

He saw one of his brothers die, another incarcerated, and with that pressure on him he decided to try to change his community for the better. He was just 18 when he first lobbied the state government at the Capitol. 

In his work at CALC today, Tadeo focuses on helping the Latino community see that they have a voice. His current focus is to set up community forums on specific issues, but he hopes to turn those gripes into solutions. “I see [CALC] growing into something beautiful,” Tadeo says, “as in having all communities in Springfield come together, and actually start addressing some of the things that are happening.”

Those interested in volunteering for CALC can call the office at 541-485-1755 and talk to Adrienne Bennett.