Fresno Metro Ministry: Supporting Social and Economic Justice

Fresno Metro Ministry: Supporting Social and Economic Justice

METRO43rdAnnivDinner_SaveTheDateFRONTBy Chanel Ruiz-Mendez and Sarah Sharpe

On Dec. 5, Fresno Metro Ministry will celebrate 43 years of advocacy to create a more “respectful, compassionate and inclusive community” at its Anniversary Awards Dinner to be held at Hope Lutheran Church (364 E. Barstow Ave.) at 5:30 p.m.

The Annual Awards Dinner pays tribute to individuals and organizations that exemplify Metro’s tradition of “working together to build a better community.” This year’s honorees include the Children’s Movement of Fresno, Fresno Immigrant Youth in Action, Teresa DeAnda of the El Comité para el Bienestar de Earlimart (Committee for the Well-Being of Earlimart) and Gabe Hernandez of Fresno/Madera Youth for Christ.

Fresno Metro Ministry is a multicultural, multi-faith community benefit organization that promotes social, economic and environmental justice. As advocates dedicated to community action for more than 40 years, Metro continues to work on issues surrounding hunger and nutrition education, clean air and healthy environments, smart growth and healthcare access by empowering residents to become better advocates for themselves, their families and their neighborhoods.

Over the years, Metro has provided a unique leadership model to Fresno and the Central Valley as a dependable partner to those without access to decision makers, empowering the underrepresented to speak for themselves and with community partners about the most pressing issues of the time. Metro has developed and implemented cross-cultural clusters, founded the Local Health Care Coalition and influenced the contract between Fresno County and Community Medical Centers for maintaining a Level 1 Trauma Center and clinics.

More recently, Metro advocated for the adoption of a wellness policy for Fresno Unified School District, partnered with the City of Fresno to build three community gardens that give more than 300 families access to healthy food, pushed the state legislature to add a doctor and a scientist to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and influenced the City of Fresno’s General Plan update to stop sprawl from draining resources from the city’s core.

Throughout its history, Metro has been consistent in engaging and challenging relevant community stakeholders to address and proactively resolve matters grounded in fair policy and just organizational structures.

“It is vital that each generation pay attention to those most vulnerable as they are impacted by the social, economic and environmental realities of its day,” said Metro Board member, Rev. Dr. Norman Broadbent.

Today, the organization finds itself in an exciting period of transition that provides an opportunity to reflect on programs, services and capacity. Interim Co-Directors Chanel Ruiz-Mendez and Sarah Sharpe, who have been leading the organization since January, are preparing to hand over the reins to a new permanent executive director in February 2014. (A formal announcement will be made at the 43rd Anniversary Dinner.)

Metro is undergoing a strategic planning process, with staff, the Board and the community stakeholders, that is intended to harness this time of transition to create a positive change in the organization’s capabilities, relationships and resources. These efforts will focus on increasing performance to more effectively produce community results that are meaningful for the health, success and resilience of families in existing neighborhoods and communities in Fresno and the region.

The new era of Metro brings a renewed energy and style of leadership. The team is exploring values, vision and mission to better align and produce measurable results that will also draw new resources to Metro’s work. The values being explored are consistent with Metro’s interfaith foundations and represent ancient wisdom and understandings about what is required for healthy societies and prosperous communities.

These values include the following:

  • Wholeness: Not divided or disjoined; not wounded, injured, or impaired; to be restored, healed, healthy, sound and unhurt.
  • Completeness: The state of being complete and entire; having everything that is needed; to make whole, with all necessary elements or parts.
  • Well-being: A good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness and prosperity.
  • Peace: The absence of hostilities; freedom from quarrels and disagreements; harmonious relations; public security and order.
  • Justice: The quality of being just; fairness; the principle of equity; the upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards and the law.
  • Salvation: Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty or evil.
  • Prosperity: A successful, flourishing or thriving condition.

As Fresno Metro Ministry embraces the new generation of leadership, the Board and staff reaffirm their commitment to enable the organization to more fully live out its mission in a re-visioned future as a multicultural, multi-faith community benefit organization that promotes social, economic and environmental justice in order to create a more respectful, compassionate and inclusive community.

We look forward to sharing the outcomes and new direction with everyone in early 2014. For more information on Fresno Metro Ministry or to give input on its strategic planning process, call 559-485-1416 or e-mail


Chanel Ruiz-Mendez and Sarah Sharpe and the interim co-directors of Fresno Metro Ministry. Contact them at


  • Mike Rhodes

    Mike Rhodes is the executive director of the Community Alliance, was the editor of this newspaper from 1998 to 2014 and the author of several books. Contact him at

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