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FAQ: MomsRising GOTV Postcards

Sara Alcid's picture

Thank you for your interest in our GOTV postcard campaign! The future is what we do together. Together, we are sending voting reminders to 2 million moms that need a friendly, personalized nudge before election day. 

SCROLL DOWN TO FIND SECTIONS ABOUT... 

  • Joining the postcards campaign
  • Receiving your postcards
  • Writing your postcards
  • Returning or sending your postcards
  • Other questions

> Joining the postcards campaign <

Where can I sign up for GOTV postcards?

The sign-up period for GOTV postcards closed on Monday, August 17th because we officially reached our updated goal of sending 2 million voting reminder postcards! If you missed the sign-up period but would still like to support this campaign, we are accepting donations to help offset the cost of printing and postage. If you would like to be notified about our future GOTV postcard campaigns, please sign up here. Thank you for your support!   

Is it possible to order an amount of postcards that’s between 10 and 100?
At this time, we are only able to ship out packets of 10 or 100+ postcards due to the way they are being produced and cannot accommodate requests for other quantities (e.g. 40 or 50 postcards). 

How do I change the address that my postcards are being sent to?
Unfortunately, it is now too late to change any delivery addresses since all postcard packets for August and September are already in production or mailed out.

Why do you require a mobile phone number on the sign-up page?
The sign-up form asks for a mobile phone number so that we can send you a text message to confirm your postcard order or follow up with you if your postcard packet isn't returned. If you do not have a mobile phone number that you can submit, please submit a landline instead and we'll plan to stay in communication with you via email.

Will instructions and a voter address list be included in my postcard packet?
Instructions will be included in your postcard packet and will include sample messages to write on the postcards. All of the postcards are pre-addressed, so we will not be sending an address list. 

What do the postcards look like and what’s the message on them?
A preview of the postcard design is on the sign-up page and the message on the front says: 

The future is what we do together. 
Be a voter. Raise a voter. 

Who created the beautiful artwork on the front of your postcards?
The postcard artwork is by the very talented Natalie Bui: https://www.nataliebui.com/

 

> Receiving your postcards <

When will my postcards arrive?

  • If you signed up to volunteer in May or June, your postcard packet should have arrived in early July. Unfortunately, many volunteers submitted invalid/incomplete mailing addresses or didn’t reply to our text messages about confirming their order. 
  • If you signed up to volunteer in July, your postcard packet will arrive around the end of August. Due to the current USPS delays, we ask for your patience and flexibility with the arrival timeline. It's possible that they will arrive in September. Unfortunately, many volunteers submitted invalid/incomplete mailing addresses or didn’t reply to our text messages about confirming their order. 
  • If you signed up to volunteer in August, your postcard packet was mailed on or before September 8th and should arrive within 5 days, although we ask for your patience and flexibility with the arrival timeline due to the current USPS delays.

I never received my postcards – where are they?

Unfortunately, many volunteers that signed up to fill out postcards entered incorrect or old addresses and mobile phone numbers when signing up for them. Many volunteers also didn't reply to our requests to confirm their large postcard orders (100 or more postcards) via text message and/or email. If you should have already received your postcard packet according to the timelines above but haven't, it's safe to assume that either an incorrect address/number or unconfirmed postcard order is the reason. There's also a very small possibility that your packet got lost en route to you. 

 

> Writing your postcards <

I lost my instructions! What should I do?

  • If your postcards arrived in late AUGUST, click HERE for a digital copy of the instructions.
  • If your postcards are arriving in SEPTEMBER, click HERE for very important UPDATED instructions about mailing your postcards direcly to voters on October 5th!

Do I have to be a mom or parent to participate?
No – anyone and everyone is welcome to volunteer to write MomsRising voting reminder postcards!

All of my GOTV postcards are addressed to voters with the same first name. Is this okay?
Some volunteers will receive GOTV postcards addressed to voters with the same first name. This isn't a mistake or mixup and we assure you that they are all different voters, even if they all live in the same state!

Are the postcards being sent to voters registered with a particular party?
This is a non-partisan GOTV campaign, so we do not target voters by party. The postcards are pre-addressed to infrequent mom voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, Washington, Georgia, Virginia, and New Hampshire that need a friendly nudge to cast their vote! 

Will the postcards mention any candidates?
The postcards do not mention any candidates. They are general voting reminders!

 

> Returning or sending your postcards <

When do I need to send my completed postcards back to MomsRising or directly to voters?

  • If you received your postcard packet in July, your completed postcards were due back to us in the provided pre-paid envelope by July 31st. If you haven’t returned your postcards yet, please do so as soon as possible!
  • If you are receiving a postcard packet in late August after requesting them in July, they will be due back to us by September 25th in the pre-paid envelope provided. Please follow the instructions included in your packet!
  • If you signed up for a postcard packet that is set to arrive in early September, you will not send your completed postcards back to MomsRising. Instead, you will mail your pre-addressed & pre-stamped postcards directly to voters on October 5th. We are closely monitoring the issues that the USPS is currently facing and are confident that mailing the postcards on October 5th will be the most effective and impactful send date. 

I didn't return my cards on time, what do I do? 
Please return them as soon as possible! 

I didn't get a return envelope – what do I do?
It depends on your postcards! Check your postmark and confirm the following: 

  • If your postmark says: "PRESORTED" – your postcards must be mailed back to us, and it's possible your return envelope was accidentally not included or fell out of your package on the way. Check out the answer below that says "I lost my pre-paid return envelope!" and send your cards back to that address in Danbury, Connecticut. 

  • If your postmark says: "FIRST-CLASS MAIL" – your postcards should be mailed directly to the recipients on October 5. Drop them in a blue USPS mailbox or at the post office. 

Do I need to add stamps to the postcards and cover the cost of postage?
No, MomsRising is covering all postage costs to make this GOTV project fully accessible to everyone that is interested in participating. The voting reminder postcards are pre-stamped and we will provide a pre-paid return envelope for volunteers that should return their postcards to MomsRising.

I lost my pre-paid return envelope! What should I do with my postcards?
Please mail them back to this address:

MomsRising
c/o Focus Mailing
1 Prindle Lane
Danbury, CT 06811

* * * If you are unable to cover the cost of mailing the postcards back to us, please email postcards@momsrising.org and we’d be happy to send you another pre-paid return envelope!

Did MomsRising receive the postcards I completed and sent back?
Unfortunately we cannot provide individual confirmations that packages have arrived back to us, but please rest assured that we're successfully receiving a very high rate of completed and returned postcards! 

Is MomsRising aware of what's going on with the USPS funding and delay issues?
Yes, we are monitoring the situation very closely and accounting for its implications. If any of the project's deadlines or mail dates need to be adjusted as we get closer to the election, we will be sure to contact you with any updates. As of right now, no adjustments have been required. 
 

> Other questions <

I would like to make a donation to the GOTV postcard campaign. How can I do that?
Thank you so much for interest in donating! Here are a few ways to do so:

  • DONATE ONLINE HERE
  • SEND A CHECK to this address (include "GOTV postcards" in the memo line): 

    MomsRising Together
    3717 Boston St #313
    Baltimore, MD 21224

 

* * * If your question wasn't answered in this FAQ, please submit your question here * * *

Mourn. Rise. Change The World. Your September MOMentum

Anita's picture
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A graphic image with a blue background and text that reads MOM-entum.]

September has been a MONTH -- and in 2020, that’s saying something. With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the developments in Breonna Taylor’s family’s case, and the ongoing pandemic, our fight for justice has been relentless (more on that in the newsletter below).

In between raising our voices, we’ve been pausing for deep breaths. We hope you’ve been finding ways to care for yourselves and to keep your spirits and energy up the best you can, the way moms and caregivers so often do.

One bright spot has been celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month-- see below for the powerful work of our MamásconPoder team!

And as election season heads into high gear, we’re fired up and ready to go. This is big--thanks to supporters like you.

Thank you for being part of the MomsRising movement.

  

 

JUSTICE FOR BREONNA

A wall in Kentucky -- an inanimate object -- received more justice than Breonna Taylor.

She deserved so much more.

The MomsRising community stands with the family and loved ones of Breonna Taylor, BLM Louisville, and the Movement for Black Lives in demanding justice.

Thank you for supporting the fight for racial justice with your generosity and activism.

➡️ STATEMENT: An Egregious Miscarriage of Justice, An Insult to the Memory of Breonna Taylor
➡️ ACTION: We will still fight for Breonna

 

 

 

MEMBER LOVE

“MomsRising is an organization that seems to get it! You care about children and families and that is my passion. You think of ideas of how to reach out. You keep track of what I have and have not supported so I don't have to remember... I trust you. There seems to be so little of that...Keep up the good work.”

—Julianne

 

 

 

MEDIA SPOTLIGHT

“As the economic collapse stretched into May, Angélica González realized how untenable it was to be a parent in a pandemic…

‘I was failing at every front. I was failing at work, I was failing as a mother, I was failing as a provider,’ said Gonzalez...

Searching for a solution, she found one in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law in March.”

We thank MomsRising member Angélica González for sharing her story with The 19th -- and we also promise to keep working to ensure everyone has access to paid leave and sick days.

Together we’ve won a lot of battles, including passing paid family/medical leave policies at the state level, and together -- with your help -- we’ll keep pushing until we finally get a national paid family/leave policy that covers everyone and for always.

"New federal rules could make it harder for parents to take paid leave" – The 19th, Sept. 11, 2020

 

 

 

 

P.S.– We love to hear your feedback. What inspires you to be a MomsRising supporter? What does MomsRising mean to you? Send your thoughts to me, anita@momsrising.org. Thank you!

 

 

QUICK SIGNATURE: Divest in Policing, Invest in the People

Content warning: We discuss the police violence against Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, Jacob Blake, Trayford Pellerin, Cornerlius Fredericks, Layleen Xtravaganza Polanco, Antonio Valenzuelaand Muhammad Muyamin below. 

MomsRising stands with the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of over 150 Black-led organizations that have come together today to launch the BREATHE Act. This visionary bill divests our taxpayer dollars from mass incarceration and discriminatory policing and invests in a new vision of public safety—a vision that answers the call to defund the police and allows all communities to finally BREATHE free.

Why BREATHE? Why now?! 

On March 13, 2020, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot eight times in the comfort of her own bed by police officers who terrorized and raided her home with the now illegalized, “no-knock” warrant. [1]

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was arrested, pinned to the ground, and strangled to death by a police officer after being accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill. [2] 

Two days later, Tony McDade, a Black transman, was shot to death by Tallahassee police officers. [3]

Less than three weeks after the killings of George Floyd and Tony McDade, Rayshard Brookswas murdered on June 12, 2020 for sleeping in his own car at a Wendy’s parking lot. [4]

On August 23, 2020, 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot seven times in his back in front of his children, who were sitting in his car, after splitting up a fight in his own neighborhood. [5]

In that same weekend, Trayford Pellerin was shot eleven times and killed by Louisiana State Police. [6]

Cornelius Fredericks went into cardiac arrest and died while staff members laid across his torso in efforts to restrain him at a residential treatment facility for children ages 12-18 who have been placed in the foster care system in Michigan. He was 16-years-old. [7]

Layleen Polanco, a transgender woman of color, died from an epilectic seizure in Rikers after being wrongly placed and violently terrorized in solitary confinement. [8]

Antonio Valenzuela was choked to death by a New Mexico police officer who was caught saying he’ll ‘choke you out’ on video. [9]

Muhammad Muhaymin, who struggled with mental illness and intermittent homelessness, was choked to death in the custody of Phoenix police for trying to use a public restroom accompanied by his service dog. The officers that killed him are still on the force. [10]

According to the Mapping Police Violence organization, there have only been 12 days in 2020 where police did not kill someone—TWELVE DAYS—and Black people make up 28% of those killed by police in 2020 despite being only 13% of the population. [11]

In recent years: Attiana Jefferson, Elijah McClain, Stephon Clark, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile... The list goes on.

Beaten. Shot. Tasered. Pepper sprayed. Choked and strangled. When will Black and Brown people have a chance to BREATHE?

WHAT IS THE BREATHE ACT?

  • IMAGINE: Schools free of police and full of trained counselors and restorative-justice programs, where all our children are kept safe and their needs are met. 
  • IMAGINE: Easy access to trained, trauma-informed interventionists who can be called on in domestic-violence situations and who are equipped to facilitate long-term safety, healing, and prevention. 
  • IMAGINE: 911 operators dispatching unarmed mental-health experts instead of police in situations involving behavioral health crises, and callers being allowed to request responders that connect to the gender identity of the person in crisis.

The BREATHE Act offers a radical reimagining of public safety, community care, and how we spend money as a society. We bring 4 simple ideas to the table:

  • Divest federal resources from incarceration and policing.
  • Invest in new, non-punitive, non-carceral approaches to community safety that lead states to shrink their criminal-legal systems and center the protection of Black lives—including Black mothers, Black trans people, and Black women.
  • Allocate new money to build healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities.
  • Hold political leaders to their promises and enhance the self-determination of all Black communities. [12]

COVID-19 exposed our infrastructures (or lack thereof) in the worst of ways. When our communities needed medical assistance, we were sent police officers. When we needed resources for food, we were sent police officers. When people could no longer afford to pay rent, they were policed instead. Our communities need easily accessible resources and services, not over-policing during a health pandemic. We need YOU to cosponsor the BREATHE Act right now. This isn’t just for some of us, this is for all of us. 

The BREATHE Act will ensure that our political leaders invests in our communities through education, housing, healthcare, mental health services, and address the needs of the people living in low-income communities including but not limited to: youth, elders, immigrants, healthcare workers and other essential workers, people living without shelter, public housing residents, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming people, women, informal economy workers (including street vendors, sex workers, canners and others), and the many Americans who have or may become newly unemployed or homeless as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic period. [13]

Placing police officers in public schools and our communities doesn’t make them any safer. Oftentimes, as we’ve seen in the cases mentioned above and those not named who fell victim to state police department violent and terroristic practices, when police officers abuse their authority in our communities, we are left to feel vulnerable, unsafe, and/or deceased. Take action: Sign on and cosponsor the BREATHE Act!

With gratitude,

Diarra, Monifa, and the entire MomsRising.org team of Amber, Anita, Aryan, Beatriz, Beth, Casey, Christina, Claudia, Diana, Donna, dream, Elyssa, Felicia, Gloria, Hanna, Jessica, Jordan, Joy, Julia, Karen, Keisha, Kelle, Kristin, Linda, Lisa, Lucerecer, Maggie, Marysol, Nadia, Nancy, Nate, Nina, Rocío, Rosie, Ruby, Ruth, Sara, Shanette, Sheila, Sili, Sue Anne, Tasmiha, Taylor, Tina, Tola, and Xochitl

P.S. We’d like to give you a special invitation to join us for BREATHE Day today (9/29) hosted by the Movement for Black Lives! Hear from artists, movement leaders, community activists, and more as we all come together to demand Congress to rise up and meet our demands. Click this link to RSVP. 

 Link* https://action.momsrising.org/go/67928?t=18&akid=14371%2E2414301%2Eo1zDVx 

References:

[1] What We Know About Breonna Taylor’s Case and Death

[2] How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody

[3] Black transgender man fatally shot by Florida police

[4] What We Know About the Death of Rayshard Brooks

[5] Kenosha officer claims he thought Jacob Blake was trying to abduct child

[6] Louisiana officials are investigating the police shooting of a 31-year-old Black man

[7] 3 staff members charged after teen's restraint death in Michigan have been released on bond 

[8] Activists Demand Justice And Cash Bail Reform For Layleen Polanco A Year After Her Death In Solitary

[9] Officer on video saying he'll 'choke you out' before man dies is charged with manslaughter

[10] Bodycam footage from Phoenix arrest reveals new details about Black man's death in custody

[11] Mapping People Violence 

[12] The Breathe Act

[13] The Path Forward: How to Defund the NYPD, Invest in Communities & Make New York Safer

Voting is a Parenting Responsibility

Walking in a sea of people towards the ballroom, I felt the weight of a long-sought goal coming to fruition. My brain spun on the fact that nine months later, I would be able to vote. It was February of 2012. I had lived in this country since 1979 when I came from Colombia as a seven-year-old girl. In my 40th year I was finally becoming a US citizen, and in that moment as a mother, as a mental health professional, and as a parenting educator, I understood that I was finally going to be given the right, the privilege, and the responsibility of voting. I have never taken for granted the gift I was given.

My children and my clients need me to vote my conscience so I can choose elected leaders  that see their needs and support their communities. For parents and for caregivers, voting is a responsibility. Parents often sit across from me worried, anxious and concerned about the well-being of their children. They wonder with me if the decisions they are making for their children’s education, discipline and social emotional health will benefit the future of their children. However, they rarely wonder how the larger societal rules and systems may or may not be hampering their child’s development, mental health, and future successes. I hold those pieces for them. I bring them up often. The success of the parenting journey from the child’s birth to the time they leave home for college is intertwined with their elected leaders locally, statewide, and federally. Voting can guarantee that those who are making the laws and granting the funding to important programs that support families make the choices that match a parent’s values, goals, and needs for their children and their families.

These decisions our elected leaders make are critical, because the first 1000 days of a child’s life create lifelong patterns for a citizen’s experience. [1] The first 1000 days are counted from pregnancy to a child’s second year. That short period of time creates patterns in the brain and in the body that can live with the child for a lifetime. Access to pre- and post- natal medical care, health insurance, nutrition, high-quality childcare, and education are the responsibility of both the parents and our legislature. When parents give up their right and responsibility to vote, legislators get placed into positions of power that make decisions on these basic needs for their families and children. In the state of Florida, enrollment for the voluntary pre-kindergarten for 4 year olds had close to 75% enrollment by the end of 2017. A very high percentage compared to other states, but the funding per student was one of the lowest in the nation due to legislators lowering the funding from the state budget every year since 2010. [2] When we don’t fund our children’s needs we give up on investing in our future.

On November 2012, I walked proudly into my voting booth and marked my ballot, as I have done ever since on all election days. I know that in that voting booth I am using my voice, my values, and my education to choose the local, state, and federal leaders that could help my children, my clients, and my community. When one of us suffers, we all suffer.  When one of us succeeds,  we all succeed. We are intertwined as a community in many ways. Social justice and social change lives in our homes within the building blocks and development of our children.  We must vote to make sure that our children are going to be welcomed into a society that will support, love and honor them as much as we do. Voting is one of many parenting tasks. In my list of musts it is near the top. I hope you will take on the responsibility and honor your right.

Visit dos.myflorida.com/elections for times, locations, and what forms of identification you need to bring with you.

Originally appeared on Stop Parenting Alone 

 

References

[1]1,000 Days (2017) Why 1,000 Days? http://www.thousanddays.org/the-issue/why-1000-days/ (accessed November 2017).Google Scholar

[2]http://first1000daysfl.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Florida_YB2017.pdf

Review the Week: Ruthless, We Rise [Sept. 25, 2020]

ICYMI: This week we mourn the tremendous loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, stand with the family and loved ones of Breonna Taylor in calling for justice, and rise to make this country a more just place for women and families. Check out this the content you loved, liked, shared or might have missed in the MomsRising community for the week ending Sept. 25, 2020.


1. INSTAGRAM: Mourning the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Fierce, rigorous, fearless, peerless. Notorious, even. We promise to live up to and honor the values she fought for.

INSTALOVE: https://www.instagram.com/p/CFTOpsxlsyC/


2. NEWSROOM: Breonna

"Shock. Outrage. We stand with the family and loved ones of Breonna Taylor, Black Lives Matter Louisville, the tens of thousands of activists in Kentucky, and the national Movement for Black Lives in calling for justice...Our hearts are with Breonna Taylor’s mom and all those who love her. We will not stop demanding justice."

READ THE STATEMENT: https://www.momsrising.org/newsroom/an-egregious-miscarriage-of-justice-an-insult-to-the-memory-of-breonna-taylor


3. BLOG: Shut down Irwin Detention Center and Defund ICE

Forced hysterectomies. Appalling medical neglect by ICE. 

Demand that ICE immediately shut down the Irwin County Detention Center and that Congress hold ICE and CBP accountable for human right abuses. 

TAKE ACTION: https://www.momsrising.org/blog/shut-down-irwin-detention-center-and-defund-ice


4. BLOG: It's #Election Season! Here's Everything You Need to Make a Plan to Vote & MORE!!

#ElectionSeason is here with some states already early voting - and we are here for you to help you vote. 

HERE ARE 3 SIMPLE STEPS: https://www.momsrising.org/blog/its-election-season-heres-everything-you-need-to-make-a-plan-to-vote-more


5. BLOG: I Got Involved for My Son Javi

"Over that year I learned one of the most important lessons of my life - that democracy is not a spectator sport.  It’s not enough to vote every couple of years and consider your work done...It would be easy to wallow in despair, to give up.  But it wouldn’t be right, and it wouldn’t be American, at least not in the way John Lewis and RBG wanted us to be."

READ MARTHA'S STORY: https://www.momsrising.org/blog/i-got-involved-for-my-son-javi 

Your Voting Checklist!

Sili Recio's picture

It’s 2020. Pretty much NOTHING is going as planned this year.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t turn this trend around -- and make a plan to VOTE THE WAY YOU WANT TO THIS YEAR!

Vote with popcorn on your kitchen table. Vote early if your state allows. Vote in a hammock by mail. Vote in-person on November 3rd with a facemask. And get the kids in your life involved! “Be a voter, raise a voter” is a motto so many of you have brought to life! Have kids join in as you do your civic duty no matter how you vote. They can read books or color these pages and do voting -friendly crafts. And generally have fun with you as you’re voting!

→ And after you make sure you’re registered to vote & have your voting plan complete, you (YES, YOU!) can inspire other moms to vote -- and help increase voter turnout -- by using this frame on social media right now to celebrate National Voter Registration Day!: https://share.momsrising.org/v16/

2020. IS. A. YEAR. And fortunately, there are a lot of safe voting options this year. To exercise any of these options, we each need to make a plan to vote NOW -- starting with double triple checking that you’re registered to vote!

National Voter Registration Day 2020

*Go here to double check that you’re registered vote, get a vote-at-home ballot if that’s an option in your state, or find out where to vote in-person near you, and get going on making your plan to vote: https://action.momsrising.org/signup/ballotready_future/

Last thing to do? It’s easy! Think of three friends or family members who could use this information and share this email with them! If everyone receiving this email does this, we can reach thousands of people who need that one last bit of encouragement to vote!

THANK YOU. Together, we are strengthening our democracy for ourselves and future generations.

An Egregious Miscarriage of Justice, An Insult to the Memory of Breonna Taylor

Shock. Outrage. We stand with the family and loved ones of Breonna Taylor, Black Lives Matter Louisville, the tens of thousands of activists in Kentucky, and the national Movement for Black Lives in calling for justice. There is no other way fair-minded people can react to the grand jury decision announced in Louisville today. We support the movement demands that three officers responsible for Breonna Taylor’s murder should have been fired, charged with murder, and had their pensions revoked. The fact that none of that happened is an egregious miscarriage of justice and a painful reminder of how much work lies ahead to root out white supremacy and the devastation and violence it evokes in this country.

Further, we echo the cries of the organizers on the ground and thousands of justice-minded people who have used their platforms to demand justice and demand that the Louisville police department be defunded. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer must resign immediately or be fired. And the wheels of justice should continue to turn until there has been real accountability for the murder of Breonna Taylor, a young woman who served others as an essential worker and whose whole life was ahead of her, until Louisville police murdered her as she slept in her bed.

Our hearts are with Breonna Taylor’s mom and all those who love her. We will not stop demanding justice, in this case and others, because until police officers who commit crimes are held accountable, none of us and none of our communities are safe.

 

Wanna help out in Louisville?

Louisville Community Bail Fund:  http://bit.ly/LouCommBailFund

BLM General Fund: http://bit.ly/BLMLou

Anti Eviction Fund: http://bit.ly/evictionfund

Healing for Louisville: http://bit.ly/502healing

I Got Involved for My Son Javi

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A photo of a woman with shoulder length brown hair holding a microphone in one hand and a toddler in the other.]

The year my son Javier turned two, he and I spent a huge amount of time traveling around North Carolina and speaking to anyone who would listen about his healthcare needs.  Javi has Down syndrome, and along with that he has many co-occuring conditions, including two holes in his heart, kidney and gastrointestinal reflux, severe obstructive sleep apnea, and a floppy airway.  

At that time, he did not have Medicaid coverage and my husband and I were relying on private insurance to help us access the care he needed to live a healthy and productive life.  Even with that insurance and the protections provided to him through the Affordable Care Act his medical expenses had quickly drained our savings.  We were terrified that the ACA might be repealed and replaced by the ‘AHCA,’ which offered little protection for people with pre-existing conditions like Javi’s, or worse, that it would be repealed without a replacement, meaning that we would not be able to buy insurance for him at all or that, with the return of the lifetime caps that were banned by the ACA, he would meet his cap within a couple of years and would be uninsurable for the rest of his life.

We talked to state and federal representatives, spoke at rallies and town halls, addressed the North Carolina state legislature, and even (accidentally) crashed an invitation-only meeting between a newly-elected congressman and local business elites.  When we woke up the morning after John McCain’s famous thumbs-down vote I knew that Javi and I had helped make a difference, but it came at a price.  We had burned a lot of gas, both literally and emotionally.  We’d lost friends who couldn’t understand why we’d engaged in this fight.  But it was incredibly worth it.

Over that year I learned one of the most important lessons of my life - that democracy is not a spectator sport.  It’s not enough to vote every couple of years and consider your work done.  Our job, as American citizens and members of this wonderful, wide, and diverse community of human beings, is to vote, and then hold our elected representatives accountable, to continue the conversation that comes up every election year, to do all that we can to strive to make our neighborhood, our city, our county, our state, our country, the best that it can be for all of the people who call it home. 

This year we’ve lost two people who learned and lived that lesson better than anyone else I can think of.  Representative John Lewis and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg dedicated their lives to making America the place it was meant to be - a country that includes, represents, and honors every human that resides within its borders.  Their legacies mark a stark contrast between who we are supposed to be and who we are right now, and make it all the more clear that what is happening in this country - the divisiveness, deceitfulness, cruelty, and rudderless leadership are absolutely not who our forefathers imagined us to be.  It would be easy to wallow in despair, to give up.  But it wouldn’t be right, and it wouldn’t be American, at least not in the way John Lewis and RBG wanted us to be.

What I hope I can do is inspire one or two or maybe a few people to get more involved. If you have a story, tell it.  Call your Senators. Phone or text bank. Maybe crash a couple of invitation-only meetings.  Javi got a free donut out of our Congressman’s, so you may even end up with a snack and a good story to tell.  But whatever you do, do as much as you can.  We owe Justice Ginsberg and Representative Lewis more than that.  We owe our country more than that.  We owe our friends and neighbors more than that, and we owe ourselves more too.

"But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself, something to repair tears in your community, something to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you.  That's what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for one's self but for one's community." - Ruth Bader Ginsberg

"Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet." - Representative John Lewis