Who is TMO

The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) is an organization of institutions dedicated to developing power and leadership among citizens in order to transform democracy. TMO was formed in order to give a voice to people who are usually excluded from the major decisions that affect their lives. TMO offers people the opportunity to develop the leadership skills necessary to be full participants in society. TMO is a part of a larger network of organizations known as the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). The Industrial Areas Foundation is a nationwide network.

This blog, it’s posts or comments do not necessarily reflect the positions of TMO (The Metropolitan Organization) in Houston Texas. However, the administrators make every effort to ensure that the post are compatible with TMO’s positions and address issues of families in Houston.

TMO Alief–A New Vision

TMO has a long history of working in Houston creating a relational culture that believes that all persons are a gift from God and that they have worth and can participate in the decisions affecting their families.  For the past year and a half TMO has been working in Alief schools helping parents develop agency and leadership.  What started as a model has now expanded into TMO working in six schools.  Over the next year watch our activities and how parents and members of the community interact to create an organic community that links people and their multiple voices.

Youens Elementary Parents House Meeting

Capital Idea–testimonials

The following are testimonials from students in Capital Idea.  Most of these students have completed their academics and are now gainfully employed.

CapitalIDEA_workshop1-2“I am excited to have Capital IDEA in Houston because it is helping me to get my career education.” – Raul Reiaks, future Electrician

Participant Testimony – LaQueena W.
Posted June 22nd, 2011 by admin
“Capital IDEA Houston is like a dream come true. A program to help me to succeed in life. It’s a wonderful program to be a part of – it helps you strive for what you want in want in life, in all aspects.” – LaQueena Woodard, future Occupational Therapy Assistant

Participant Testimony – Darlene J.
Posted June 15th, 2011 by admin
“I am excited because Capital IDEA Houston has given me a second chance to start over – a chance to go to college and to have a career with a high paying job.” – Darlene Jones, future Health Medical Information Technician

Participant Testimony – Mario T.
Posted June 8th, 2011 by admin
“Capital IDEA Houston is the reason why I’m getting my life back together. Others should apply to better their lives, and their loved ones lives as well.” – Mario Trevino, future Process Technician

Participant Testimony – Jessy D.
Posted June 1st, 2011 by admin
“I am super excited that such an opportunity opened up to me and my family. If it wasn’t for Capital IDEA Houston my family’s future would be different. Thank you so much for all that you are doing. You all are helping me fulfill my dreams!” -Jessy De La Garza, future Dental Hygienist

Participant Testimony – Maxwell O.
Posted June 1st, 2011 by admin
“I am excited to have Capital IDEA in Houston because of the investment in human beings. This is the greatest thing you can give anyone – help them achieve his/her life ambitions.” -Maxwell Okachuckwu, future Physical Therapy Assistant

Participant Testimony – Keonna M.
Posted May 16th, 2011 by admin
“Capital IDEA Houston gives individuals the opportunity to get a degree and advance their skills. I am excited that I was chosen to be a part of the program.” -Keonna Mashalla, future Physical Therapist

Come to the Capital Idea Lunch and Learn January 18 after worship

Capital Idea Houston lunch and learn Janurary

In a recent meeting with Houston’s mayor Parker she stated that there was an immediate need for 20,000 Middle Skills jobs to be filled for Houston businesses. Capital Idea Houston which was started four years ago by TMO (The Metropolitan Organization) assists low income persons in obtaining a living wage job by providing education and job placement in skills that pay anywhere from $15.-25 per hour. Come to our January lunch and learn what is being done in cooperation with the Greater Houston Partnership, businesses and our community college network. and how you can be a part of expanding the program from close to 200 students to 1000 students in five years. Good jobs are the best way to bring persons out of poverty and Capital Idea is one of the most effective means of doing this in the Gulf Coast region.

Come and share a light lunch and learn how your company and you can be an important part of this highly effective program.  It’s just another way that MDUMC is Loving God and Loving Neighbor.

Toward a Healthier Alief

Last Sunday afternoon TMO had its first ever community meeting in Alief entitled Toward a Healthier Alief.  About 125 members of 8 congregations attended the meeting and addressed community concerns with the two city councilpersons, and the police chief from the Southwest substation.  Issues included abandoned buildings, the Forum park next to Best elementary, crime, inadequate bus service the need for speed cushions and the issue of stray dogs and cats.  Commitments were obtained from the city officials to work with TMO to address and fix the issues.  In the debriefing process after the meeting the planning committee and pastors agreed that the next step was to meet on October 11 to strategize as to how to bring the issues to fruition.

The purpose of the meeting was not just to gain commitments from public officials but to also build an organization in Alief to bring persons together that will work together for change.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is just the first of a series of meetings and studies whose purpose is to build a more inclusive and healthier community.

Toward a Healthier Alief

TMO and member congregations in the Alief area have announced an event for September 28 at 1pm at Grace United Church of Christ.  Our goal is to have 300 persons from the Alief community to discuss the following issues with Councilpersons Laster and Nguyen and the police chief from the westside substation to address issues of abandoned houses and vacant lots, speeding on neighborhood streets, crime and animal control and the need for improved transportation.  MDUMC has committed to bringing 20 persons from our congregation.  A signup table will be set up in Friendship court over the next few Sundays or just respond to the blog.  This is the first such meeting that we have had in Alief, so please be a part of this event to help build a healthy community in Alief.tmo

Mission Bend UMC–Loving Neighbor In Alief

Mission Bend United Methodist Mission Bend United Methodist Church

Mission Bend United Methodist back ministry to Holmquist Elementary Kids in AliefMission Bend United Methodist is a partner with TMO in our collaborative efforts to bring stability to families in Alief.  The following is a brief description by Carrie Leader, associate intern,  of the churches efforts in Alief.  We are proud of their continuing efforts to love God and love Neighbor.  Please pray for their continued efforts.


Mission Bend United Methodist Church adopted Holmquist Elementary School in Alief ISD as their primary outreach last year.  As we deepen this relationship, we are looking for ways to make lasting positive impacts on the families who send their children to this school.

We are committed to raising funds so that every child who is eligible for the Backpack Buddy Program can take home food each and every weekend this school year.  Last year, Houston Food Bank provided enough food for 50 children.  Holmquist had over 230 eligible children on their list.  We, as a church, created our own “bags” so that half of the children took food home every weekend.  This required enough food for 60 bags and we had over 20 faithful volunteers who contributed time every week to assemble the backpacks (which we also provided) and deliver each week.  We had volunteers pick up empty backpacks and we continued this cycle every week, beginning in December.  We had a number of other members who faithfully contributed monies and food for the initiative.

This year, we are proud to collaborate with Westside Homeless Partnership to bring self-sufficiency to ten Holmquist families.  This is a pilot program for WHP as they look to expand into Alief ISD and possibly into Katy ISD.  They have a tremendous success rate for the past twenty years they have worked in Spring Branch ISD.  With self-sufficiency comes stability for the children who have been subjected to frequent moves during their school year, disrupting their education and their social connections.

Feng Shui in Alief– A Path To Harmony


“In harmony with the Tao,
the sky is clear and spacious,
the earth is solid and full,
all creatures flourish together,
content with the way they are,
endlessly repeating themselves,
endlessly renewed.

  When man interferes with the Tao
    the sky becomes filthy,
the earth becomes depleted,
the equilibrium crumbles,
creatures become extinct.”

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching


Houston Realtors who work with persons with a Chinese heritage  often have to have one extra skill in their Realtors tool box–an understanding of Feng Shui, an ancient oriental art to insure health, happiness, and harmony.  Feng Shui has its origins in Taoism, conceived by Lao Tzu, some 2500 years ago.  Even though there are numerous expressions of Feng Shui, it is primarily related to the orientation of the home and its interior.  It places great importance on the locations and orientations of rooms, shrubbery and the use of color.

For those of us who are not Asian, this may seem strange and even though we wouldn’t be as precise as followers of Feng Shui, we would still feel some hesitancy if our front door opened into our garage or bathroom or if we had a purple front door.  Feng Shui is more nuanced than this.   But it is partially about flow and is also about living a healthy and harmonious life.

Because of the large Chinese Asian community in Alief, Feng Shui has many followers and many would not think of buying a home or business location without considering Feng Shui.  But Feng Shui is only one aspect of the larger consideration attributed to following the principals of Taoism.  The Tao symbol above signifies the Yin and Yang or the balance between opposites.

The circular shape of the symbol represents the Tao. The intertwined pieces point us towards the inherent balance of two opposite forces of Yin and Yang.  Yin represents (feminine, negative, and dark) and yang represents (masculine, positive, and bright). Neither can exist without the other such as day and night or birth and death. They are ever-changing, constantly flowing one into the other.  The small dots in the middle of the larger tear drops symbolizes that even in the larger piece the opposite is also in the primary. Together they form a whole.
 The yin and yang symbol reminds us of the nature of duality (a situation that has two states that are both complementary and opposed to each other.)  These concepts are difficult for westerners to grasp.  Our tendency is to see brute power as being privileged over acquiescence and submission.  Even the concept of Love God and Love Neighbor seems too passive and unworkable to many Christians.  Often the concept of loving neighbor just doesn’t seem very practical.

The challenge that Feng Shui and Taoism present to us is the question of how can a community as diverse as Alief, live in harmony with the different religions, languages and cultures. Maybe we can learn something from Taoism–that the opposites that we confront in our world, even though different can help us create a society that values the opposites resulting in harmony, respect and acceptance of the other.  As a beginning point in this quest, consider forces in Alief that help create harmony and appreciation of the other.  Then we can ask ourselves how we can build on those points of appreciation and make the negatives into positives.

One simple way is to know a neighbor.  In a recent conversation with the manager of Sun Blossom Woods apartments in Alief, she said that she had encouraged her residents to meet at least their next door neighbor.  She believed that this would help create community.  But she said that she had very poor results from the effort but continues to work toward building a more relational community.  Isolation and distrust works against the idea of harmony and reinforces the dark side of creation.  In the coming year TMO will be working with her and the adjacent schools to build relationships that will be affirming and positive.

TMO builds relationships that enhances people's lives

TMO builds relationships that enhance people’s lives


Houston is a Welcoming and Compassionate City



Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”



children on a trainNC_borderchildren0619_700x394.1403211914

Protestors turning back buses in Murrieta

Protestors turning back buses in Murrieta



At the recent TMO press conference dealing with the refugee crisis at our southern border,  Reverend John Ogletree, pastor of First Metropolitan Church said, “Houston is a welcoming city.  It’s a compassionate city.  When Katrina struck the Gulf coast, Houston opened itself to the plight of these displaced persons.  And again after Ike, Houston opened itself to the needs of the displaced. In times of trouble Houston has always reached out to offer aid and comfort to those who have been displaced to start a new life.”

What Reverend Ogletree could have gone on to say was that Alief is a prime example of a community that opened itself to the needs of others.  Catholic Charities, the YMCA and other organizations were responsible for helping refugees from all over the world to resettle in Houston and particularly in Alief.  Houston opened its arms to the boat people from Viet Nam and Cuba.  We opened our arms to political refugees from El Salvador.  We opened our arms to refugees from Africa and the Middle East. And without much fanfare we opened our arms to over 4000 persons from the civil war in Burma.   Alief, even though not terribly affluent,  is now one of the most vibrant communities in the Houston area.  Alief has its challenges but many of those challenges existed before the resettlement efforts occurred.  Progress exists in business, education, community development and participation.  Its citizens, in spite of their diversity have a can do spirit that is amazing to witness.

The press conference that I’m referring too was a plea to congress to keep the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008 in place. We also advocated that anyone under the age of eighteen should have an attorney and must never be subjected to expedited processing.  Thirdly, that those who would meet the religious needs of the children and families must be allowed access to the U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities and religious, human rights and civic groups must be allowed to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement shelters for unaccompanied minors.  Community leaders can and should provide humanitarian support to the overwhelmed detention centers and shelters.  The letter was signed by 180 pastors, bishops and religious leaders in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California to show the faith community’s concern that these migrant children should be treated with compassion and respect.

Some would say that we have enough people on our shores and we don’t need anyone else except the very affluent or educationally superior.  And those are some of the nicer objections.  But I am reminded by theologian Walter Brugemann that “we must confess that the central problem of our lives is that we are torn apart by the conflict between our attraction to the good news of God’s abundance and the power of our belief in scarcity — a belief that makes us greedy, mean and unneighborly. We spend our lives trying to sort out that ambiguity.”

With thousands of children flooding our Southern border there are many who are afraid, angry or just down right prejudiced about this new horde of refugees.  Seeing the pictures of the train coming from central America can engender deep-seated emotions that many people cannot even admit they have.  Whatever the outcome is with the current border crisis, Houston will step up as it so often has and again demonstrate that we are welcoming and compassionate to the stranger among us.  Pray that a loving and compassionate outcome may occur with this humanitarian crisis.


Central American Children hopeful they can stay

Central American Children hopeful they can stay