Travel Log: Toledo Rally and Site Visit
Sister Margaret McGuirk, OP
July 16, 2016
Holy Toledo! Here we are in Ohio. This morning began at 10 AM at the International Park in Toledo and our focus was on Access to Citizenship.
We were blessed by some wonderful speakers:
- Sister Geraldine Nowak began her opening prayer with: Do not tire of working for peace for all people.
- Pamela McGarey of the Amalgamated Transit Union 697 is a Paratransit Worker who drives a bus for the disabled. She said that the theme that the City promotes is “You do better in Toledo.” She is grateful for the good job that she has with benefits but laments the fact that her benefits do not cover her family. In order to get health care for her family she would have to pay $700 which would mean working 60 hours instead of 40 hours She called for universal health care
- Enedilia Cisneros is with Farmer Labors Organizing Cooperative (FLOC). When she first came to the United States and began working in the fields, they had no way of asking for their basic rights. But with the help of FLOC they now receive benefits and are working for a living wage. Enedilia continues to work in the fields despite the fact she is now in her 60s and she is proud that she has four children who are not forced to do the backbreaking work that she has done over the years.
- Dr. Jonathan Ross spoke passionately of the need for single payer universal health care and the expansion of Medicare. He said that even he who is a medical doctor and has years of experience as a medical doctor finds the system of payment complex and confusing. There are 10,000 deaths a year because people are not covered by health insurance and this happens year, after year.
- Doug Jambard Sweet is dedicated to a constitutional amendment to block big money in politics. He spoke with conviction and hope that this change can be a major factor in mending the gap.
- Representative Marcy Kaptur, who has served the thirteenth district of Ohio for 34 years. Her voting record reflects her deep commitment to the policies that bridge the gap and re-weave the fabric of our nation and she is a true friend of NETWORK.
In the afternoon, we were hosted by Baldemar Velasquez who is the president and founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). Baldemar is an internationally recognized leader in the farmworker and immigrants’ rights movements.
The most exciting part of our discussion was the witness of youth who are being trained as organizers and future leaders of the community. The teenagers told us about recent projects they have been involved in with guidance from their FLOC mentors—one involving changing school policies about sexual harassment and another about engaging law enforcement around the issue of racism.
It was encouraging to see that the next generation of leaders is carrying the baton and learning from Baldemar and other labor organizers who paved the way for them. These young people are learning early how to Mend the Gaps!