Saturday, January 28, 2017

Standing room only

We had set up chairs for 75 people, hoping we wouldn't be embarrassed by an empty room at the Norwich Senior Center on Wednesday night.
Our Eastern Connecticut Healthcare Coalition was holding a public forum with our congressman, Joe Courtney.
That worry was unfounded as people filed in, and filed in, and filed in.
But the time we started, we had filled every available spot with extra chairs and still people had to line the outside of the room standing.
Joe spoke of the threats to healthcare in this country that are coming from the Trump administration; the repeal of the ACA, block grants for Medicaid, privatization of Medicare. Local community and labor leaders echoed his concerns that 18 million Americans could  lose healthcare coverage. They also spoke of concerns over the further consolidation of hospitals into Mega Healthcare corporations who fail to put patients before profits.

But we weren't there just to lament over the destruction of healthcare, we were there as a call to action. Like the hundreds of thousands who gathered in Washington last weekend for the Women's March and the 10,000 who gathered in Hartford the same day, we were there because it's time to act.
That's why the room was full.
AFT Director of Nurses and Healthcare Professional's Kelly Trautner, and Local presidents Harry Rodriquez and Lisa D'Abrosca spoke of efforts underway to push back and called the concerned citizens to action.
The next morning, I was asked to stand in for AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel at a press conference while she spoke at a rally.
Like the night before, the hearing room for the press conference was packed with citizens speaking in support of a bill that would correct an injustice that denies undocumented Connecticut students the ability to apply for financial aid, financial aid that their tuition funds.
At the press conference State Senator Mae Flexor said Connecticut will reject the agenda of the Trump administration. At the Rally, Jan issued a call to action to protect higher education for all.

I believe we will.
These are dark times.
Some see others who may look different than us, maybe due to darker skin, a foreign accent, a different way to pray, or to love, as a threat.
But there are many who continue to see them as our sisters and brothers.
The packed Mall in Washington and the standing room only crowds in Connecticut show that.
At the forum on Wednesday night, CCAG's Ann Pratt reminded us that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Well, we're standing now, lets lace up those shoes, we've got marching to do.

No comments: