Dear POWER Supporters,
2012 has been an exciting year, full of transitions and opportunities for growth that many of us have felt personally and in our communities. At POWER we have felt both the economic strain of decreased availability of funding as well as seen the incredible strength of coming together to work towards our vision; a world in which children and care giving are truly valued, and the devastation of poverty has been eradicated. Thank you so much for all you have done to join us in the fight.
Some recent highlights of our work include:
We are expanding into new areas, including POWER DOWN (Developing our Own Welfare Narratives), a project that seeks to reclaim reality on behalf of our community and organize families in poverty and on welfare to challenge crude depictions. It is more important than ever in these times of growing economic disparity for us to control our own narrative.
The Women’s Economic Collaborative is a new group meeting weekly to offer support and accountability for alternative economic endeavors. We hope that folks will experience empowerment and advance business and barter projects to better meet basic needs. It is in hard times that it becomes clear how much we need each other to survive and thrive. This is just one of the creative and beautiful displays of support this year
As always, we continue to offer legal information and support to parents trying to navigate the increasingly sparse and oppressive public benefits system. We heard this from a Seattle member we have been working with:
You have helped me so much. I couldn’t get any information about exemptions from the time limit (TANF), then I got a flier from you at the food bank and called, and you sent me information and I was able to take care of everything. This work is so important because it’s about people’s livelihoods.
On the horizons in 2013:
We polled people at welfare offices as well as gathered input from members by email and at monthly POWER Outages to create our legislative agenda. The strongest need identified is to change the laws to allow education to count as a welfare to work activity. We are collecting testimonials from parents who have benefited from access to education as well as from those currently experiencing barriers to accessing education. State policy makers applying for a waiver from federal regulations are asking for our input and we will be ready.
We are working with an international coalition of grassroots organizations who are looking at federal welfare policies, specifically the Rise Out of Poverty Act introduced by Gwen Moore, an Ohio State Representative and former welfare mother as well as the Work (Women’s Opportunity to Raise Kids). Internationally, US policies influence and affect people in other countries and our ally groups in England have a motion in Parliament to look at the same issues. We hope to bring low-income parents to Washington DC again in the spring to share their important stories via another Congressional hearing.
At POWER we remain committed to working towards empowerment and economic justice. POWER is the members; we provide one another with strength and together we can triumph. Fortunately, our generous bequest from Jean Colman sustained us when many organizations closed their doors. We are facing dwindling resources in our own access to grants and donations, while our low-income members are facing shrinking economic support for their basic needs. Our staff is shrinking as the needs for our services continue to increase. Most recently we have had to stop paying our dedicated Executive Director, Monica Peabody, who helped start the organization and has been involved in the fight for welfare rights since 1990. We hope to be able to pay her again in the near future for all that she does. Temporarily, Monica has been elected to the 2013 Board of Directors, and continues to champion the work of POWER.
In these hard times, we ask for a donation to maintain our work. Please consider
supporting POWER with monthly contributions of $5, $10, $20 or $50, or provide
an annual gift of $40, $150, or $500. All donations are tax-deductible thanks
to our fiscal sponsor. Your contribution means so much at this crucial moment. Thank you for your continued support.
Jordan Beaudry, 2013 POWER Board of Directors
Julianne Panagacos, POWER Work-Study Staff