What We Do?
VOICE is an organization made up of people that prioritizes people, relationships, and collaboration to bring forth racial justice and equity in the Buffalo community. VOICE works to overcome the history of abuses among marginalized populations, specifically BIPOC communities, legal system impacted, youth, and people with disabilities. We do this with a four-pronged approach. We believe that organized people, narrative, votes, and resources will bring about the change we want to see in our communities.
People: We do this by building intentional relationships through one on one conversations, offering restorative leadership development, and providing training where we walk with people through discovering what it takes to restore oneself. We understand that the relationship we have with ourselves is the most powerful relationship anyone can build and we encourage leaders to value and explore their story of self, their strengths, and their voice. This process requires a deep and intentional relationship with others, allowing us to identify mutual self-interest and create transformative community impact. It is this approach that empowers leaders to hold influential people accountable and shift the balance of power as they connect their own personal experiences to the change they want to see in their communities.
Narrative: To tell the sacred truth of our community leaders must first understand the power of their own story and how it connects to their community. This understanding enables them to recognize not only the challenges but imagine a path forward for themselves and their community. By working together, we unravel the dominant narrative's impact on our lives and communities and discover our collective sacred narrative. Once we determine the sacred narrative, we devise methods to amplify it, educate others on our community's truth, identify obstacles, and determine solutions to overcome them. We also determine the actions we can take, the areas where we require assistance, and where we need to hold others responsible for fulfilling their roles.
Votes: Organizing votes is done by organizing and developing leaders that nurture the needed people power that will create a bipartisan pathway to informed civic engagement. Organizing votes is how we change policy and advocate for the representative support and resources communities need. VOICE is a 501(c)(3) organization so we are nonpartisan and do not endorse politicians or political parties. The way we organize votes is providing education and information that activates individuals to make informed decisions. At a time when the right to vote is under attack and democracy hangs in the balance, VOICE is committed to a democracy where all members of our community can participate in determining who governs and how resources are allocated.
Resources: Organized resources are needed to sustain and enable the work to take place. As VOICE continues its work with legal system-impacted individuals, youth, and people with a disability it is our deepest priority to organize resources that will allow us to pour into directly impacted people, working with them to develop them so that they create the change that they need in their communities. We understand that we have to make sure that there are support systems in place that can meet their immediate needs, addressing the challenges that impact their everyday lives. Some of these challenges include legal support, food access, housing support, employment opportunities, and training to name a few. Although VOICE does not do any direct service, we build relationships with those who do. We also work to organize financial support understanding that financial resources are vital to VOICE leaders being able to organize well.