Over the past year, Down Home members have been all about making the change we want to see in our communities. We have been working our tails off in our counties, getting active on our local issues–healthcare for all, building a strong rural economy, ending the overdose crisis, ensuring humane immigration, and protecting our democracy. These are the issues that matter the most to us, our families and our communities.
You see, at Down Home, we want more out of life than what’s currently being offered to us. We want the security in knowing that we have decent jobs that can provide for our children; that we can stop using the emergency room as our main source of healthcare and start going to doctor visits that we can afford; that we take care of our loved ones who are in the most need and that we do not throw people away due to addiction, immigration status, criminal records, or any struggle.
Our relationship to each other has defined what we speak up about and who we stand up for. We believe that standing up for what’s right isn’t just the decent thing to do, it’s what we, as Down Home members, are called to do when we value each other as part of our larger family.
And what does it look like when Down Home stands up for our kin?
Here’s a snapshot of the past year that shows our values in action:
- We beat back the Duke Energy rate hike! In January, we started the year off by continuing our fight against the Duke Energy rate hikes by rallying over 20 members to a hearing in Greensboro. Two of our members testified to stop Duke Energy from passing the buck for their coal ash mess onto the backs of working families. We continued the fight through the rest of the year, mobilize to Raleigh in February, submitting online petitions throughout. In June the NC Utilities Commission denied the Duke Energy rate hike!
- We won a living wage for Waynesville city workers! In April, we mobilized 24 members to the Waynesville town meeting where we presented on raising the living wage for city workers. We collected over 100 petitions in the parking lots of Kmart, Walmart and Dollar Tree, and fast food restaurants. We are now calling for a statewide living wage – and traveled to Raleigh together with state allies to represent North Carolina’s workers.
- We stood up for the safety and dignity of immigrant families! Since February, we have mobilized over 150 people to the Alamance County Commissioners meeting to stop the implementation of the 287 (g) program and have had over 300 people take local action to keep families together. In July, one of our Western NC members made us proud by speaking in solidarity with immigrant families in front of a crowd of 35,000 in Washington, DC.
- We nationalized the fight to defend democracy and the Alamance 12! In May, we began defending the rights of the Alamance 12 by packing the court with over 50 members. We continued to do so during their trial, while also getting a national spotlight to draw attention to the attack on voting rights, for mainly people of color voters, in Alamance County. Our fight won the attention of a range of national media outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and the Observer Editorial Board.
- We opened a syringe exchange in Canton! In August, Down Home opened up a syringe exchange with the leadership of our members in Haywood County. We believe that solving the overdose crisis means caring for, not criminalizing, our loved ones who use substances. Our syringe exchange has provided hundreds of naloxone kits in addition to clean syringes, condoms, and fentanyl drug testing strips. We also mobilized 65 people on International Overdose Awareness Day to end stigma around drug use and lift up the need for public health solutions to the crisis.
- We launched and strengthened chapters in 3 counties! As a result of the vision and courage of our family we now have Down Home chapters in Alamance, Haywood and Jackson counties, strengthening the organization, voice and power of progressive rural North Carolina.
We are proud of the work we accomplished in 2018. But, we are just getting started folks! 2019 is going to be an even bolder year. We will continue our local fights for racial and economic justice while also setting our sights statewide as we push for Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage. We are excited to grow our family by adding new rural chapters in Western NC and the Piedmont, as well as growing our membership from 1,000 members to 2,000 members. Our voices will no longer be ignored-whether by local officials or by electeds in Raleigh. We are building power through organization, by strengthening the bonds of our kinship, one chapter at a time.
All of this work is made possible by the hard work and commitment of our members. We can’t build this movement alone. We need the support of extended kin and supporters like you. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for your time, hard work, and contributions.