President's report: Volunteers

President's Report:
Join new volunteers rushing to the barricades!

by Lee Mercer, HCAO president

As Health Care for All-Oregon chapters and advocates around the state join thousands of other activists at rallies, town halls and events defending Medicare and Medicaid, immigrants, LGBTQ and workers’ rights, the environment and economic justice, clipboards are being filled with new HCAO supporters, and volunteers are rushing to the barricades in the campaign for universal publicly funded health care, with some results.

When several thousand activists cheered as Rep. Earl Blumenauer said maybe we should look at single payer again at the health care defense rally in Portland on Jan 15, he must have gotten the message, as, just a few days later, he signed on for the first time as a co-sponsor of the premiere national single payer bill, Conyers’ Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. We thanked him, of course! And when Health Care for All-Oregon signs and t-shirts were scattered throughout marches in Portland, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, Ashland and other cities, the fight for single payer has become more and more identified with the larger movement to resist the current national insanity.

But how do we integrate this flood of new volunteers and activists showing up at our chapter meetings throughout the state? We discussed this at the Metro Council in Portland when a record 23 folks showed up, about half of them new, to the monthly meeting on Valentine’s Day. With a diverse group of medical professionals and young people among the new volunteers, the question was, “How do we get involved?”

And fortunately, on the agenda were Amanda Coulter and Jana Gregory, who have been working with Linda Alband, our Operations Director, on streamlining and automating our database and volunteer coordination system. They explained that we are not there yet, but we are making steps in the right direction.

Now, when a new person signs on to the web-based HCAO Statement of Support, an e-mail is sent directly to a live person, who will get back to them. Similarly, when a person fills out the Volunteer Involvement Form, Jana Gregory, who is acting as a State Volunteer Coordinator, will get back to that person, and/or pass them along to a regional or local chapter Volunteer Coordinator if they are based outside of Portland.

Amanda Coulter, who is working with Yuriko Lee on getting the Washington County Chapter revitalized, is helping create a volunteer support structure there, and helping Jana and Linda plan how to make the database work toward creating a truly responsive statewide coordination system. At the same time, Amanda is spearheading a lot of clip board work at events, feeding hundreds more folks into the system!

And under the MRG grant described in the last newsletter, one of our projects is to identify Volunteer Coordinators in local chapters around the state to connect with, engage and direct to volunteer opportunities this new wave of volunteers.

So, if you have experience and interest in volunteer coordination, be in touch with your local HCAO chapter chair, or e-mail Jana Gregory, and she will get back to you about how to become part of the network of volunteer coordinators now being formed.

And thanks again for your support of Health Care for All-Oregon! We will be joining you with other volunteers at the barricades soon!

E-mail me directly with questions.