In 1995, Gilda Haas had a vision of her own Beloved Community. In her vision, justice and equity were the building blocks for community development. With that foundation, all people could share community prosperity. Through her leadership and the strength of unity, Haas and her fellow neighbors set out to build their Beloved Community and founded Strategic Actions for A Just Economy (SAJE).
“For twenty five years I’ve worked beside poor people who organize their neighbors and coworkers to fight for decent housing, jobs, and a better life,” said Haas. “I’ve seen them light up a room with their intelligence and vision. Then go back to jobs where they push a broom or wait tables and are made invisible by middle class people who pass them by. It’s hard to stand idly by when society’s inequalities are so clearly visible.”
SAJE’s first act as a coalition was establishing the nation’s first welfare to work account allowing community members to receive job training and gain valuable skills while participating in the welfare program. Today CalWorks serves all 58 counties in California, aiding thousands of families and preparing Californians for new careers. Haas is an organizer, educator, and equity development advocate and through the decades she’s worked to ensure that public lands remain in the public’s hands. The same seeds planted by Haas and her neighbors 24 years ago continue to grow grassroots movements throughout LA. From the Figueroa Community Land Trust to ACT-LA Los Angelans are organizing and making their voices heard.
Like Ms. Haas, SAJE remains dedicated to building economic power for working-class people in Los Angeles. We’re proud to continue the legacy she started, working side-by-side with our neighbors to build our Beloved Community. Join us this Womens’ History Month as we celebrate the work of woman organizers and community leaders past and present.