[COMM-ORG] Virginia Organizing November 2010 newsletter
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Mon Nov 29 19:38:21 CST 2010
From: Virginia Organizing <e-action at virginia-organizing.org>
November 2010 News From the
Speaking Out on Extending Unemployment Benefits and Ending Tax Cuts for
With the expiration date for unemployment benefits and the Bush tax cuts
fast approaching, Virginia Organizing is speaking out statewide by
holding local events, lobby visits and by participating in a nationwide
call-in day. The Charlottesville Chapter held a rally on the Downtown
Mall the day before Thanksgiving to call on Congress to renew
unemployment insurance for millions of jobless Americans and end the
massive tax cuts for the wealthy.
Local supporters and unemployed residents gathered at the Freedom Wall
amidst signs urging Congress to act on extending unemployment and ending
the Bush tax cuts.
James Gentry has been unemployed since July when he was laid off from
the defense intelligence firm where he was employed as a supervisor.
"There was a lot at stake for me in getting my unemployment benefits and
I am thankful that I have them. I was able to catch up on my bills,"
said Gentry. "When Congress and President Obama extended unemployment
benefits this year, it was a godsend. I am not sure what I would have
done without it."
Some 2 million Americans will lose unemployment benefits beginning
December 1, and another 1.2 million will face cuts in January.
Unemployed Virginians spoke at the rally on the way that unemployment
benefits have helped them. "I have been laid of jobs at different times
in my life and I understand the fear and uncertainty that comes with
being unemployed. When you don't know how you are going to pay the
bills, it is tough to get back on your feet and find a job, especially
in this job market," said Virginia Organizing leader Janyce Lewis.
Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos addressed the local impact
of the decisions Congress faces upon their return to Washington next
week. "Unemployment benefits keep hundreds of local families afloat and
they in turn pay taxes and support local businesses, helping our economy
Congress is expected to debate unemployment benefits - and the future of
tax cuts for working Americans as well as for the wealthy later this
month and possibly into December. Rally goers took action by calling
Congress on the spot and by signing turkey-shaped letters to Congress.
Please join them by calling your Virginia members of Congress at
1-866-606-1189. Tell them to extend unemployment benefits for one year
and end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent.
After the Election: The Organizing Continues
Many of you have spent many days tirelessly canvassing, phone banking
and reminding your friends and family to vote. Regardless of who wins
or loses an election, your efforts were not in vain. Engaging low-income
voters, minority voters and young voters is a long-term goal whose
success cannot always be measured by a map on CNN. Real organizing takes
time and happens every day, not only on the first Tuesday in November.
Thanks to your help, the last several months are full of achievements we
can celebrate which will put us in a better position to stand together
for the issues that matter to Virginia's families. Hundreds of Virginia
Organizing supporters learned to phone bank and canvass this year.
Virginia Organizing distributed 4,000 get out the vote door hangers,
knocked on over 2,000 doors and made 13,000 get out the vote calls.
Many people wrote their first letter to the editor of their local
newspaper. Thousands of citizens attended their first forum or spoke
publicly on the issues they care about for the very first time. And most
importantly many people "connected the dots" in a different way,
figuring out the real need for systemic change. With your continued
support, their involvement will not stop today.
On election day we heard the rallying cry that many Americans want to
"Give our country back." But the question is, "Who are they giving it
back to?" With the unprecedented increase in undisclosed campaign
contributions, the answer is clear: the corporations. Secret corporate
contributions influenced the election in ways we have not begun to
understand. But we do know that we must continue organizing. We must
increase our capacity so that even the most well-funded corporate
interest groups cannot drown out our voices on Election Day, no matter
how many ads the corporations buy on our local television stations.
Long-term change requires a longer view. We will keep fighting together
and will use every legislative and political defeat to motivate
ourselves to organize smarter and get more people involved.
Virginia Organizing South Hampton Roads and the Providence Mobile Home
Park residents were the recipients of the Housing Virginia 2010 Media
Award. Recognition and a $500 cash award were presented to the Virginia
Beach Roundtable to assist with affordable housing efforts at the
Governor's Housing Conference in Richmond on Thursday, November 18, 2010.
We are in the middle of our
Fall Fundraising Campaign
and are at 80% of our goal. Please help put us over the edge!
News In Brief
-The Martinsville office storefront was a center point for get-out
the-vote activities and has also been used by many local non-profits
groups as a meeting space. Stop by 618 East Church Street and say hello!
-The Danville Chapter met with the mayor on a community jobs program and
continues to work on unemployment and revenue issues.
-The Valley chapter attended an Immigrant Advocates Summit, had two
budget workshops, and went door-to-door to talk about immigrant rights
in local trailer parks.
-In Newport News anti-bullying and harassment outreach is taking place
on the Christopher Newport University campus.
-The South Hampton Roads Chapter is working with the Human Rights
Commission of Virginia Beach to write a resolution to protect the human
rights of all people to be passed by the City Council and heralded
during Human Rights Week in December.
-The Southwest Chapters led a community organizing workshop with the
Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.
-Virginia Organizing leaders spoke up at meetings of the Virginia Health
Reform Initiative on implementing the new health care law.
...Pass it on!
Forward to a friend
-Newport News/Hampton Roads
-South Hampton Roads
-On Campus: W&M, UMW, VSU, UVA, CNU, E&H, U of R
Connect With Us!
Are you a state employee? Please support our work! Virginia Organizing
is participating in the
Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign
(for state employees) and our number is 3168.
Virginia Organizing Leader of the Month: Donna Sequeira
Donna is a long-time activist and religious leader who first became
involved with Virginia Organizing through Ben Thacker-Gwaltney, her
local Hampton Roads organizer. Donna cites a strong interest in the
issues, her community and a connection with Ben as her motivation for
staying involved. "Sometimes I just show up for Ben," laughs Donna.
When Donna is not volunteering with Virginia Organizing, she works as
the Social Justice Coordinator for the Thomas Jefferson District of the
Unitarian Universalist Association and home schools her daughter Mollie.
Over the last two years Donna has been particularly motivated by health
care reform and has attended lobby days, written letters to the editor
and has shared her personal story with the media. Donna has experienced
the difficulties of navigating the health care industry where the
insurance companies make all the rules. "My wife's employer wanted to
insure me as her spouse. However, Anthem would not because of the rule
that insurers only have to offer insurance to domestic partners if the
employer has 100 or more employees," said Donna. "The quality of our
health care should not be predicated on our ability to pay or to
navigate the system or on marital status."
GLBT rights are also an issue of importance to Donna. She legally
married her wife Margaret in California but Virginia does not recognize
the marriage. Donna has spoken out against GLBT discrimination locally
at William and Mary rallies and local meetings.
In addition to health care and GLBT issues, Donna has done work around
workers' rights issues, living wage work, anti-racism education and tax
reform work. Donna feels that most social and economic justice issues
are intertwined. "At the end of the day, I believe my faith calls me to
work toward disrupting systems of oppression and building a more just
world. Virginia Organizing gives me the opportunity to live out that call."
©2010 Virginia Organizing, 703 Concord Ave. Charlottesville, VA 22903
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