We’re proud to announce OneAmerica’s Annual Report for 2017 is live. Read this letter from our Executive Director, Rich Stolz, reflecting on 2017 and view the full report here.
Thank you for making our work possible.
I remember the emergency call from Mergitu, our organizer in South King County. The aunt of one of our youth leaders, Yvette, was at the NW Detention Center. She didn’t speak English, was seeking asylum, and was facing deportation. We talked through our options, and within hours our organizer connected this young woman to a trusted attorney. Staff and leaders provided emotional support to the family to make sure they knew they weren’t alone, that they were part of a movement.
It’s not the sort of thing that we spend a lot of time talking about publicly, but in many ways, the community of support we’re building among our grassroots leaders and their families, especially now, is one of the most important things we do. And this was just one of the many calls we’ve received since Donald Trump took the White House.
Fortunately, Yvette’s aunt wasn’t deported and now lives with her family here in the United States, but the story didn’t end there for Yvette. She quit her job as a medical assistant, turned her attention to activism, and eventually joined OneAmerica as an intern. An immigrant herself whose family fled from violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yvette was there in Washington, DC representing OneAmerica when she and thousands of grassroots youth leaders from across the nation took over Senate office buildings demanding action on the DREAM Act. This was a critical peak moment in the push that led to the temporary shutdown of the federal government this spring.
I couldn’t have felt more proud of Yvette, whose resilience and determination inspired me to stand firm in our advocacy when it seemed as if every institution was turning against us and our allies, asking us to be… reasonable. I was reminded yet again, that while the Trump Administration can try to demonize our families, take away our due process and our protections from deportation, that we alone can give away our dignity and humanity. Our voices will not be silenced.
Across Washington State community members are standing together through OneAmerica to defy attacks on immigrant and refugee communities and promote – through organizing, civic engagement and advocacy – a vision of a more just, inclusive and equitable world.
For so many of us, 2017 was a painful reminder of the backlash against immigrants and refugees that spurred the founding of OneAmerica (then called Hate Free Zone) in 2001. Last year, we were forced to re-set our priorities, re-center our work on organizing and leadership development, and fight like never before to protect our families and communities. Mindful of the level of fear in our communities, we were forced into a defensive posture. But we didn’t stay there.
Through resilience and persistence, we created new opportunities to advance democracy and justice in Washington State, and by some measures the last 18 months have been our most impactful, productive and successful in the history of our organization.
In this new political context, we’re just getting started. In the coming months and years, we must double down on our organizing, expand our base of leaders, and focus on building the capacity of our leaders and communities to drive campaigns to change the policies, institutions and practices that impact our families and lives. We must build powerful coalitions across race and across sectors capable of taking on the big fights in our state and our nation, and we must always stay grounded in the leadership of our base. In this project, we need your support, your energy and your commitment.
By returning to our roots, we’re more powerful than ever, led by our resilient and courageous members, volunteers and staff. When we organize, we know we can make the impossible, possible. And we’re only beginning to see what we can accomplish together.