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Together New Orleans Engages Neighborhood Around Vaccinations with Help of Church, Music and Food

[Excerpt]

The event was held at St. Maria Gorretti Catholic Church, in a neighborhood in New Orleans East with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city at just under 7 percent as of March 31. For two weeks canvassers from Together Louisiana walked the area’s streets, handing out flyers and attempting to make appointments for people who hadn’t already been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

For the group’s last canvassing effort, they brought along the band.

As demand for COVID-19 vaccine declines, public health officials say on-the-ground efforts like this are what’s needed....For canvassers Mimi Ayers and Katie Perry, engagement looks like sharing their vaccination stories whenever people they encounter have questions about the experience.  “I'll say, ‘I got vaccinated. I did the Moderna shot. Here were my symptoms.’ Because I think it helps a lot for them to have a real person in front of them who's taken it. One person actually [told me] that,” Perry said.

...The Together Louisiana approach is derived from the organization’s efforts to engage voters during elections. The nonprofit is a partner in the Louisiana Department of Health’s “Bring Back Louisiana” campaign to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus....

“What can make something exciting more than food and music, particularly for New Orleans?” Lloyd of Together Louisiana said. “When you went canvassing and told people, ‘Hey, we're having this event, come on out, anyone who comes out can get vaccinated, and we're also going to have fish and a brass band, people's faces lit up.”...Together Louisiana plans to host another event at St. Maria Gorretti on May 29 to provide second shots for patients who got first doses on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Bobbi-Jeanne Misick, New Orleans Public Radio

The Latest Phase of Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Is Slow, Deliberate and on the Ground, New Orleans Public Radio [pdf]


AMOS Chronicles Olympian Story Behind New Olympic-Trial Skatepark

[Excerpt]

The Rev. Bill Cotton wasn’t sure he was seeing what he was seeing. As a civil rights leader, the longtime pastor of Grace United Methodist in Des Moines, and founding member of the grassroots organization AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy), he had seen a lot. But he never thought he would see a teenager on the roof of one of his two adjoining church garages attempt to jump the gap between them on a skateboard. Fortunately, the skater made the jump, Bill didn’t have a heart attack, and he did what everyone does to annoying skateboarders — he shooed them away.

Little did Bill, who has since died, know that those skaters, from his own congregation, would join AMOS and start a revolution in Des Moines.

The skaters were part of the Grace United Methodist Church youth group, and when AMOS organized a large-scale community listening campaign, they met with that youth group and heard of the need for a first-class skatepark in Des Moines. That led AMOS to Callanan Middle School’s newly formed skateboard club, where they heard more of the same. The AMOS adults challenged the youth to organize a presentation to Des Moines’ mayor and City Council at an upcoming AMOS Issues Assembly....

Des Moines Lauridsen Skatepark: Tracing a 17-year Journey, From a Nuisance to a Metro TreasureDes Moines Register [pdf]

 


In 'Act of Love,' VIP Engages 500 Neighbors Ahead of Vaccination Clinic

[Excerpt]

Monica Dorsey said about 500 homes in Maryvale were visited on Saturday and that she "absolutely" believes the effort will translate into higher vaccination rates.

She said the goal is to vaccinate between 1,500 and 1,800 people through May, adding that it is the "best feeling in the world" to know that Maryvale, and the larger Phoenix area, would be safer because of it.

Dorsey said the door-to-door efforts are also a key part in disseminating vaccine information, adding that "personal contact seems to make so much of a difference."

"Everybody is convinced social media is the way to reach people, but if you want to really, really reach them, you have to see them, talk to them, find out what's on their mind, hear their stories," she said. "It's so important and it is effective and we'll stay at it until percentages get where they need to be."

[Photo Credit: Drake Presto, The Republic]


VIP, with Daughters of Charity, Brings Covid-19 Vaccines to Neighborhood & Knocks On Doors to Invite Residents

Valley Interfaith Project (VIP) leaders, with the Daughters of Charity Sisters at St. Elizabeth and St. Cabrini Catholic Churches have begun knocking on doors and talking about the vaccine with residents around St. Vincent de Paul Church to ensure that all residents have the opportunity to get vaccinated.

[Photo Credit: Univision]

Invitan a la Comunidad a Vacunarse Contra el Coronavirus este 5 de Mayo en el Condado Maricopa, Univision [Video]


COPS/Metro Draws 600 Leaders Online for Accountability Session with Candidates for City Office

[Excerpt from San Antonio Express-News]

More than 600 San Antonio community members tuned in to a virtual accountability session where city politicians and candidates addressed police reform, workforce development, education and February’s power outages.

Communities Organized for Public Service and the Metro Alliance, or COPS/Metro, hosted the session Sunday in the runup for the city election May 1. Early voting starts Monday.

Nearly 40 incumbents and challengers running for mayor, city council and San Antonio Independent School District board seats joined the conversation....

COPS/Metro Assembly Draws Virtual Crowd of 600 to Quiz San Antonio CandidatesSan Antonio Express-News [pdf]

VideoNOWCastSA


Texas IAF, Bishops, Faithful Call on Lt. Governor and Senate to Reject 'Permitless Carry' Legislation

Bishops, rabbis, clergy and faithful from across Texas convened to express vocal opposition to the passage of proposed legislation HB1927 which would allow "permitless carry" in the state of Texas.

Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz referenced the massacre in El Paso which resulted in dozens of residents dead and seriously injured. Baptist Rev. Darryl Crooms from San Antonio testified to the "unnaturalness" of adults burying children.  Lutheran Rev. Jessica Cain testified to the impact of last weekend's shooting in North Austin on local worshippers.  Rabbi David Lyon recalled last year's deadly shooting in Santa Fe High School.

Together -- with Lutheran Bishop Erik Gronberg, Episcopal Bishop Suffragan Kathryn Ryan, Methodist Director of Missional Outreach Andy Lewis, Dallas Catholic Bishop Gregory Kelly and several lay leaders -- all expressed concern that passage of HB1927 would increase gun violence.  States that have passed similar laws, removing the required license and training needed to carry a handgun, experienced spikes in homicides and gun violence.

“Our faith tradition teaches us to protect life,” said Bishop Suffragan Kathryn M. Ryan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. “You cannot protect life if people carrying deadly weapons aren’t properly trained and licensed.

"You’ll find no scripture that will support this kind of legislation,” said Pastor John Ogletree, First Metropolitan Church of Houston. 

“It makes our church much less safe,” said El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz.

Video of Press Conference

Texas Faith Leaders Come Out Against 'Permitless Carry'CBS Austin [pdf]

Bishop Mark J. Seitz, Other Religious Leaders Oppose Bill That Would Ease Carrying of GunsEl Paso Times [pdf]

Religious Leaders Speak Against Texas Bill That Could Allow You to Carry Gun Without LicenseABC13 Houston [pdf]

Group of Texas State Leaders Say They're Opposed to Permitless CarryFOX KDFW

El Paso Bishop, Gun Store Weigh In On Texas 'Constitutional Carry' Bill DebateKFOX14 [pdf]

Esto Opinan Líderes Religiosos en Tejas Sobre la Propuesta Legislativa de Portar Armas Sin LicenciaUnivision Dallas 


COPA-Powered Community Health Workers Reach 10,000+ Immigrants & Workers

[Excerpt]

[At the beginning of the pandemic] members of community groups 'Mujeres en Acción' and 'Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action' (COPA) began meeting twice a week at the onset of the pandemic to figure out what community needs were after seeing the virus negatively impact their neighborhoods. They began making hundreds of phone calls to locals, going to their respective churches, schools and other places of gathering, building a list and figuring out what people needed to stay safe – and financially afloat – as the pandemic progressed.

“What we were finding is people almost knew that they have symptoms or believed that they were infected but they couldn’t afford to stay home,” says Maria Elena Manzo, program manager for Mujeres en Acción....

Organizers made a list of things they believed were needed to slow the spread of the virus in the hard-hit farmworker community. The list included better communication from employers about potential exposure and wage replacement for those who miss work due to self-quarantine.

Organizers met with Monterey County Health [officials, and] later began working with a wider group of community leaders, including representatives from the agriculture and hospitality industries and Community Foundation for Monterey County, called the Covid-19 Collaborative.

In December 2020, they presented to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, who voted to approve a $4.9 million budget for a community health worker program. That program, called VIDA (for Virus Integrated Distribution of Aid), is currently funding over 110 community health workers across 10 organizations, Mujeres en Acción among them, to provide resources to people in the communities that are hardest hit. One of the groups, Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, is providing information in Triqui, Zapoteco and Mixteco, indigenous languages from the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero in Mexico that are all spoken in Monterey County.

“One way to stop the spread was to hire people from the community as trusted messengers to talk to people to help them understand the need of being safe, using masks and distancing and all that,” Manzo says.

[Photo Credit: Jose Angel Juarez/Monterey County Weekly]

Fielding A Virus-The Agricultural Season is Ramping Up For the Second Time During a Pandemic. Is the County Ready?, Monterey County Weekly [pdf]


Together Louisiana Knocks on Doors to Encourage Vaccination Among Hard-to-Reach Neighbors

[Excerpts]

Volunteers with Together Louisiana went door-to-door across several Baton Rouge neighborhoods Monday, April 19, to educate people about the vaccine and answer any questions they might have from the comfort of their own home.

“Reality is we’ve all been held captive for over a year,” said Khalid Hudson.

Hudson is one of the organizers with Together Baton Rouge and Together Louisiana. He said most of the hesitation from people comes from misinformation.

“I know there’s a lot of information, a lot of websites, a lot of news coverage, but many folks may be in some of these communities might not watch regular news or might not have access to regular internet,” said Hudson. “So, it’s like that information still has not got to them. So, we’re bringing the information to their doorstep.”

[Photo Credit: WAFB 9]

Together Louisiana Going Door-to-Door to Sway Residents to Get Vaccinated, WAFB 9 [pdf]

Covid-19 Vaccine Sites and Testing Locations


Texas IAF Leaders Demand State Legislators Weatherize Power Grid, Provide Relief for Families Struggling with Repairs

[Excerpts]

The virtual press conference was organized by the Network of Texas IAF Organizations — a nonpartisan coalition of 10 primarily faith-based organizations across the state that represents more than 1 million people — and The Metropolitan Organization, a Houston-based civic group, to keep public attention on the aftermath of the widespread power outages that occurred earlier this year....

Texas IAF has thrown support behind Senate Bill 3, which would mandate weatherization under federal energy regulation guidelines. The bill passed on March 29 and now moves to the House. It would also impose penalties for noncompliance, increase coordination among state energy regulating bodies and create an emergency alert system.

"Our families have already suffered enough," said the Rev. Minerva Camarena-Skeith of St. John's Episcopal Church [of Central Texas Interfaith] in Austin. "They have paid more than their fair share of the cost for the mistakes of the energy industry and the unwillingness of the legislature to regulate the energy industry."

As legislation trudges through the legislature, the struggles continue across the state, members of The Metropolitan Organization said during the press conference. The budget strain of paying for repairs, they said, is especially felt by people living in apartments, whose landlords may not cover costs, as well as mobile home park residents and the elderly.

Pipes also burst at the home of Sorina Serrano, who is still waiting for repairs. A leader with The Metropolitan Organization Houston and member of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, Serrano said her home insurance coverage expired in March and other insurers have told her they won't cover the house until the repairs are made.

[Photo Credit: Isabelle Baldwin/CNS Photo]

After Texas' Winter Storm Disaster, Faith Leaders Press for Legislation to Ensure 'Never Again', Earthbeat- National Catholic Reporter [pdf]


VOICE-OKC Calls for Transparency in Who Benefits from Winter Storm Related Cost Spikes

[Excerpts]

Oklahoma City religious and community leaders are raising questions about how power providers plan to recover an estimated $4.5 billion spent on fuel during February's severe winter storm.

Power providers spent so much in the wake of the storm, a customer who might normally see a $100 February bill could have seen a nearly $2,000 bill instead, with months of similar bills to follow.

Some legislators recently submitted plans to mitigate these costs over time, but leaders of the civic organization VOICE OKC want assurance the process won't pass unreasonable fuel costs on to consumers.

“If we as consumers are going to be asked to pay $4.5 billion, we deserve transparency,”

said Eric Jergensen, a VOICE member representing the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House.

[Photo Credit: Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Civic Group Seeks Answers About $4.5 Billion in Storm-Related Fuel CostsThe Oklahoman [pdf]

Some Oklahomans Concerned Over Proposed Plan to Pay Off $4.5 Billion Utility Bills from February StormKFOR [pdf]

Advocates Call For Transparent Investigations Into Cost Spikes, The Norman Transcript [pdf]