Minutes and Audio Recording - General Meeting, June 6, 2017

General Meeting #7 - June 6, 2017 - 7:30 p.m.

Central Synagogue of Nassau County/Congregation Beth Emeth

(Click here to listen to the audio recording.)

Meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Cindy  and Emma welcomed attendees and thanked the Temple for hosting our group. Announced that the meeting was being audio- and video-recorded; the recording will be posted to our website and Facebook Group.

Updates on summer activities and the future of our group (Ed)

RaisingVoicesUSA has reached the 6-month mark as a group. We have grown rapidly and our structure is loose - we need to organize more formally to facilitate our work. To begin this process, we will not hold general meetings during the summer and will use the downtime to organize around 4 main areas:

  1. Governance

    1. Look into legal incorporation as a charitable organization - 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4)

      1. Will allow contributions to our organization to be tax-deductible

    2. Draw up by-laws, with legal advisement (hopefully through pro-bono work)

    3. Form a Board of Directors and potentially appoint officers

    4. Group insurance to protect against accidents during meetings/events

    5. Determine any other legal filings which may be required (intellectual property protection, trademarking our group name, etc.)

  2. Finance

    1. Set up a group bank account

    2. Formalize financial procedures/controls, including accounting/bookkeeping

    3. Develop a budget (will assist with fundraising)

    4. Develop standards for reporting on financial matters to the group

  3. Communications

    1. Internal - to retain and engage our existing members

      1. Email & social media policies

      2. Meeting procedures, guidelines for agendas, etc.

    2. External - to recruit new members and support growth

      1. Marketing - our brand (who we are, what we stand for, how we get things done) & image (graphics, visual standards, etc,)

      2. Website development

      3. Social media development

  4. People/Leadership

    1. Develop our leaders and committee chairs to be productive and inspiring

    2. Identify educational opportunities for current members

    3. Identify resources/training needs for current members (how to organize events, how to facilitate meetings to ensure engagement, etc.)

    4. Orientation for new members

We will report back to the group when we regroup at a general meeting in September.

Acknowledgement of high school seniors (Cindy & Emma)

The group recognized Amanda and Emily, RVC high school seniors who have worked with the group from the beginning. They co-chaired 2 committees (Women’s Rights & Unity and Diversity) and worked supported RVUSA with youth outreach. They will not be returning in the fall as they move on to college, but we are grateful for their inspiration and passion and we wish them luck in their next adventures!

Recap of recent events (Cindy & Emma)

On Friday, June 2, members gathered for a postcard party/evening of advocacy hosted by the Gun Violence Prevention committee. Members wore orange to participate in the Wear Orange campaign.

The Civic Engagement Committee organized members to go door-to-door encouraging people to vote in local elections. The committee also reminds the group that some of our members have run or are running for local office (Liz Stack, Jane Fisher) and need our support. Finally, happy to report on Christina Pellegrino’s election to the NY State Assembly representing the 9th district.

In less positive news, we’re all disappointed by the announcement that the U.S. will leave the Paris Agreement. However, this presents an opportunity for state and local governments to commit to continue to meet the goals of the agreement, as the agreement between NY, CA and CT (which is growing every day) shows. It is important for us to be especially engaged with state officials on this and all other important issues.  Privately-owned companies are also coming out in support of the agreement, which we should also pay attention to. Finally, keep an eye on out Facebook group for info on what we can all do individually and daily to help the environment.

Presentation on Planned Parenthood (Joann Smith, President & CEO of PP Nassau County)

Review Joann’s presentation

History of PPNC

PP offers quality reproductive care services from preventative and pre-natal care to adult sexual health and treatment services, as well as educational programs. The average patient is between 18-29, but PP serves all ages. Services are offered on a sliding scale based on income.

Since the election there has been an outpouring of support for PP. They expected to be targeted by this administration, but it is crucial that the community continue to stand up in support of the rights we hold sacred. A tiny percentage of all services offered by PP are abortions, but abortion is also a legal right and it MUST be provided safely.

PPNC has health centers in Hempstead, Massapequa and Glen Cove, and specifically serves at-risk communities in West Hempstead, Roosevelt and Westbury. By working in conjunction with schools they have been able to reduce the teen pregnancy rate significantly since 2009. Ultimately, their goal is to keep our children safe and give women the freedom and ability to flourish and be successful.

However, if we don’t have laws that protect legal access to the services PP offers, those services become useless, so it’s important to keep supporting legislators working in support of PP (Todd Kaminsky, for example). They also must raise $1.5 million annually to continue to provide affordable care to people at all income levels.

The proposed budget and replacement for the ACA would prevent PP from receiving federal reimbursement for services, and would NOT impact abortion services as those already may not be federally funded. There is a misconception that other healthcare providers would pick up PP’s patients if they lose federal funding support; however, other providers don’t provide the same level of service at a cost that all women can afford (for example, many community health providers don’t take Medicaid, which is the system which allows PP to serve so many people regardless of their financial situation). “Defunding” PP would result in the loss of access to birth control, cancer screening, STD testing, etc for 2.5 million people per year.

PP plan of action in the face of the threat of being defunded:

  1. Delay action on ACA repeal to ensure adequate review and time to engage with elected officials (note that the Senate is trying to push through their ACA repeal quickly)

  2. When delay is no longer possible, work to defeat the repeal

  3. Litigate against any and all damaging bills that DO pass

  4. If all else fails, work to mitigate the results

The PPNC Board has promised that no matter what, they will stay open.

Remember that federal actions have ramifications at the state level. For example, if Roe vs. Wade is overturned federally, it opens the door for states to follow suit locally. Members are encouraged to push the NYS Senate (by contacting Senator Kemp Hannon) to codify Roe vs. Wade via the Reproductive Health Act (S 2796), and to support the Comprehensive Contraceptive Act (S 3668)which protects affordable access to birth control.

Members are also encouraged to attend upcoming PPNC events, especially the Pink Out Power Up Nassau County event on July 11 at Hofstra; follow PPNC on Facebook for information on other upcoming events.

FInally, RVUSA members who are interested in helping to protect PPNC should consider joining the Women’s Rights Committee.

Healthcare Committee Update (Tom, Ariel)

During the committee’s last meeting, members shared why they were getting involved with the committee, and it became obvious that our real stories can be a powerful tool to humanize the healthcare debate, give it a face, and push back on negative rhetoric with proof of the actual human impact of having or losing care.

The committee is kicking off a Healthcare Stories Initiative:

  • Members who have a story of how their lives have been shaped by having (or not having) access to healthcare are asked to share their stories with the Healthcare Committee. If you would like to share your story, please contact info@raisingvoicesusa.org to be connected with a member of the committee.

  • The committee can help you to tell your story through whatever method you are comfortable with - in-person or online interviews, on-camera or not, anonymous if you’d prever

  • The stories can be used in a wide variety of ways:

    • Web media campaign

    • On social media

    • In ads targeted to legislators and elected officials

    • Publish in a book

The committee will meet again on 6/22 so any members interested in becoming more involved with this initiative are encouraged to attend.

Upcoming Events

Visit our website or watch the Facebook group for event details:

Friday, June 9 - An Evening of Advocacy for LGBTQ Issues

Postcard party, sign-making for Pride parades in Long Beach and NYC, and educational opportunity.

Thursday, June 15 - Film Screening “The Family Next Door”

The film focuses on a family with two children with autism; screening hosted by the Unity and Diversity Committee

Thursday, June 22

  • Immigration Committee meeting

  • Healthcare Committee meeting

Keep an eye on our Facebook group for information on future postcard parties, and a possible summer social gathering (we are looking for volunteers to coordinate!)