By Arnie Carter, AFSC volunteer

I am a very fortunate guy, because I work with both the Romero theater troupe and I am on the Area Program Committee  of AFSC here in Denver. This past Saturday, September 17, these two groups intersected at the 2011 AFSC Annual Public Gathering here in Denver. One of the highlights of the gathering is the Jack Gore Memorial Peace Award, given this year to Paula VanDusen and Linda Smoke (see below for more info).

The Romeros are named after Oscar Romero, and our motto is “social justice though theater." It's the genius of Jim Walsh, who teaches history here at the University of Colorado-Denver. We are a diverse group of students, workers, teachers, immigrants and activists, and we range from in age from 5 to 82. (None of us really claim to be actors.)

On this night we did a couple of short scenes from our latest play “The Peoples History of Colorado.” At the end of our performance, one of the members who is from Mexico and regularly attends AFSC’s monthly vigils at the immigration detention center talked about how much respect she has for AFSC and how AFSC fights for basic human rights.

Then I asked people to try and imagine what it must be like to have to leave your homeland, to risk your life crossing the border, to live with the fear of having your family torn apart at any time.

I love AFSC because they fight for peace and justice and for the rights of folks that society has turned its backs on. When I say I love AFSC, I am saying that I want AFSC to flourish and am willing to work to make that happen.

Tania Valenzuela, an AFSC volunteer, shared these thoughts: “The night of the Annual Public Gathering was a quite an accomplishment, both personal as I fortified myself with courage to hold the mic all night, as well as community/group success. We achieved success because we shared several messages throughout our event. We communicated the significance of AFSC's doings, we praised those whose work has been hand in hand with AFSC's goals, and upheld the importance of our work being a team effort with our fundraising. During the night I was told that my nervousness did not have space in me that day because the message was bigger and it was. Coming from the immigrant community itself I know how grave the message can be and I am glad we have help delivering it. We do not stand alone and for that we have AFSC to thank.”

(Thanks to Carol Barrow for these wonderful photos of the Romero Theatre Troupe and the Annual Public Gathering.)