When you’re in the field of social and economic justice, the work never really stops. As long as injustice remains, there are leaders to support, partners with which to coordinate, and policies to pursue. So at Jewish Community Action, it’s not every day that we take the time to slow down and celebrate our successes. In fact, in the past year—during which JCA re-launched two leadership development programs, surpassed 1,000 member households for the first time, and helped protect the right to vote, pass marriage equality, establish strong protections for homeowners, increase opportunities for immigrant students, and much more—we have yet to set aside a day to celebrate the leaders and strategies that made these victories possible.
This past Sunday, at the 2013 JCA Annual Meeting and Member Celebration, we finally had that day. With over 100 JCA members and allies (including U.S. Senator Al Franken, State Representative Raymond Dehn, and State Representative Frank Hornstein), we gathered to celebrate not only our very real and tangible accomplishments from the past year, but also how we won. In a program that weaved together an introduction from Senator Franken, stories from JCA members and partners, and, yes, even song, we all realized that this past year has been so successful precisely because we have not slowed down. Every day, JCA staff, members, champions, and allies work tirelessly to make our state more just, and as a direct result, Minnesota is a better place today than it was in 2012.
This everyday work can take many different forms, so, on Sunday, we celebrated the variety of ways in which JCA supporters contribute their talent and leadership. We honored the dedicated organizers—particularly outgoing JCA staffers, Adele Brown and Dave Snyder—who work directly with congregations and community partners every day. We thanked our allies in communities most affected by injustice, and heard from Rose McGee (who fought in 2013 not only to keep her own home but also to protect other Minnesotan homeowners from foreclosure) and Mariano Espinosa and Jovita Morales (who played key roles in passing the Minnesota DREAM Act in 2013).
Finally, we thanked the everyday JCA leaders who coordinate with our staff, allies, and members to put our values into action. We honored JCA members Lynne Hvidsten and Jon Eisenberg, co-chairs of the JCA Marriage Equality Working Group, who engaged other members to defeat the marriage amendment and pass the freedom to marry. And we thanked, Judi Tennebaum, too, for her involvement in JCA’s 2013 summer membership campaign, during which she and other JCA champions recruited new members and helped us surpass 1,000 member households.
“This is exactly what I needed,” one JCA member said at the end of Sunday’s meeting. For all of us—staff, members, allies, and legislators alike—the day was a reminder of the everyday work that must go into making our state more just, and the fact that, in such a big undertaking, there is a place for everyone to contribute and excel.
At Jewish Community Action, we challenge you to further explore your role in this work in 2014. Maybe you feel a strong connection to one of our issue campaigns and want to share your story with your legislators or community. Or perhaps you have a few friends who you believe should join JCA, and you wish to recruit them to make our base even stronger. No matter what your interests, strengths and availability, you can surely find a place in JCA's work for social and economic justice. And if every JCA member gets involved in a new way in 2014, we, as a community, will bring greater energy and dedication to our work, and will be even more successful in the coming year than we were in 2013.
To learn how you can get more involved with JCA—be it every day, one day a week, one day a month, or even just one day a year—contact an organizer today. And if you wish to support JCA financially on Give to the Max Day 2013 on November 14, schedule your donation HERE starting this Friday, November 1. If all JCA supporters pitch in just little bit more, through action and financial contributions, one day soon, Minnesota will be the state we all know it can be.