Travel Log: Irvine, CA
Sister Reg McKillip, OP
October 9, 2018
Our first event took place outside Representative Mimi Walters (CA-45) district office. We originally had a visit scheduled with local constituents to meet with with Representative Walters, however she needed to postpone the meeting. The visit will take place sometime in the coming weeks.
As has been the case with every event these days, we were greeted by a very enthusiastic crowd. Sister Quincy Howard, a Sinsinawa Dominican, opened the event telling people why we are here…to hold our elected officials accountable for their votes on the 2017 tax law.
We had three speakers sharing their message for Representative Walters, each of whom delivered a powerful message from distinctly different experiences.
Lynn Woods is a retired District Manager for Orange County Children Services where she worked with a state-run program for children with disabilities. This program provides medical care to children with life threatening conditions It is financed primarily by Medicaid. Lynn’s concern is the cuts to Medicaid that will happen to pay for the 2017 Republican tax law.
Our second speaker, Helen Gardner shared how she and her family benefited from affordable housing, healthcare programs and other services in the past. When the Affordable Care Act passed, she had health insurance for the first time in many years. Helen said that without these programs, she would not be here today. Helen has been able to give back to her community by serving on the board of the Camino Health Center and the board of a non-profit low-income housing developer. She also works with Orange County to provide emergency shelter to newborn babies and works hands on with parents to help find make their way back from homelessness.
Helen is able to contribute to her community so much today not because of her individual talents, but because of the services that she had received from her community. Helen reminded us that every person who utilizes these programs has something to give. We need to continue to fund programs that mend the gaps, so people can give back to the community using their unique talents. Helen reminded us of why we are doing this when she stated, “If one person hears our message and their heart is soften toward those who are living in poverty…then our purpose is served.”
Sister Mary Therese Sweeney, a sister of St. Joseph of Orange, and our third speaker, serves as a sponsor of the St. Joseph Health Ministry. She spoke about how important it is when you are in a leadership position whether in business or Congress, your humanity must stretch further then your personal empathy for other people. She asked us and Representative Walters to consider whether we can be satisfied that 20% of our kids in Orange County are going to bed hungry, and that these kids are not getting the nutrition they need so they can develop as they should. She challenged Representative Walters to “move from her own personal deep care for others that we have seen in many ways and to apply those deep values as her role as our representative.”
After hearing these three speakers, I resonated with what Sr. Simone remarked to the crowd: “Data and heart, you cannot defeat the combination. When the truth comes with compassion that creates action.” And so, we were off to create more action!