Photo Credit to Andrea Gamboa, taken 2017.
“Don’t Call it a Come Back, WE’ve Been Here for Years!”
Hello Supporters of WE!
In the words of Hip Hop legend LL Cool J, “Don’t call it a comeback..” Women Engaged has been here for years! Yet, I am excited to share with you our fresh newsletter that will be distributed monthly with updates on all that is happening at Women Engaged! I think of you often and hope that you and yours are finding ways to be well during this key turning point in US history. You may not have known, but in the midst of the current pandemic, Women Engaged (WE) is celebrating five years of dedicated service focusing on comprehensive voter engagement, election protection, political leadership training, mentorship, selfcare and public policy advocacy in Georgia. We are living out our vision to create a world that cherishes and respects Black women and girls especially during these most unsettling of times. And this moment reminds me of this profound quote:
“Centering on Black joy (...) is about holding the pain and injustice we experience as Black folks around the world in tension with the joy we experience in the pain’ midst. Black joy is healing, resistance and regeneration. The two, joy and pain, are not mutually exclusive, and often we need the latter to get through the former.” Kleaver Cruz, Founder of the Black Joy Project.
Once public health experts sounded the alarm on COVID-19, I knew that our years of steadfast, trustworthy voter education and engagement across metro Atlanta suddenly became even more critical. Why, you may ask? As reporting on the impact of this pandemic reveals raw inequities built into our key structures, Black people are experiencing some of the worst outcomes. We know these conditions didn’t begin with the recent pandemic--they stem from systemic racism in healthcare delivery, poor working conditions, lack of protective gear, and erosion of labor rights while access to the vote continues to be undermined. Our communities were now faced with the daunting task of understanding how to stay protected from getting the novel Coronavirus, homeschooling our children, and navigating complex systems to receive limited emergency relief funds while losing jobs, or, working even longer hours providing essential services. At the same time, our families are trying to keep up with ongoing changes with upcoming elections in Georgia and making sure to complete the Census. Women Engaged is listening to our community and is prepared to respond.
Putting safety and wellness first, I guided my team to pivot our work to a telecommute and virtual format within days of major warnings. By March 10th, my entire team, including WE’s 15 part-time canvassers were provided the technology and training needed to continue our voter engagement activities from home along with a COVID care package to support them in the face of rapidly changing norms. Our team was also trained on how to respond to crisis calls and to help guide those we talk to, to the direct services they may need while keeping residents abreast of upcoming election date changes, how to vote by mail, and why to complete the 2020 Census. We immediately edited our script to ask community members how they are doing? And, if they needed information on local resources for emergency assistance? In just 8 weeks we have helped nearly 150 Atlanta, East Point, and College Park, GA, residents including following up with them to ensure they received the services they requested. Through our conversations with community members we are learning that while people are angered by the mismanagement of this public health threat, they remain hopeful we will get to the other side triumphantly.
As I reminisce over the last 5 years building Women Engaged, I am encouraged by the brilliance and innovation of the next generation of leaders I work with daily. I’m proud to have nurtured a space for stellar community engagement, love and dedication to our communities, and fierce action. We have made a real impact. Collectively, we’ve held over 26,000 conversations with an average voter turnout rate of those we touch between 35%-39% in municipal election years and between 55%-62% on average in general statewide and major election years. These results are nearly twice the average rate of participation. years. These results are nearly twice the average rate of participation.
To learn more, make sure you read the following note from the WE program team discussing their work and how you can get involved while maintaining social distance.
Finally, I invite you to celebrate our impact with us by clicking here to support our work as an act of resilience, love, and resistance while we mourn too many losses due to COVID-19, racist terrorism, and the systematic erosion of democratic practices because we are here to stay, fight back, and WIN!
Malika Redmond, MA
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Women Engaged
Michelle, Senior Program Manager and Dee Byrd,
Program Associate and If/When How RJ Fellow
Hello from Michelle and Dee the Women Engaged Program team!
We may not have been in your inbox a lot, but we are still in the community fighting for the issues that matter most to you. It seems that every year brings on a host of new challenges, and, yet we continue to rise to the occasion and overcome!
Photo taken February 2020.
As we were campaigning to “Get Out the Vote” for the 2020 presidential primary, we could not have anticipated this moment of social distancing due to a global health crisis. However, we quickly pivoted all canvassers and volunteers to virtual outreach, as early as March 10th, because at Women Engaged we prioritize safety.
As we are encouraged to social distance, it is crucial now more than ever that we continue to be civically engaged and to hold our elected officials accountable to the needs of our communities. Therefore, we trained our team in crisis management calls to better serve our communities while still providing up to date information on Georgia’s primary election ensuring that our efforts are responsive to our communities new reality. And in just the first week of our remote campaign efforts we were able to assist over 100 people impacted by COVID19 by giving them up-to-date reliable local resources to assist with their immediate needs. WE is a proud, trusted voice providing critical information to our people. We want our neighbors and our communities to know that our team is here for them.
Photo Taken March 2019
WHY THE PRIMARIES ARE STILL IMPORTANT
There is currently one candidate representing each major party in the 2020 Presidential Primaries. Why participate? By casting your vote in the primaries, you are letting your political voice be heard, no matter how many candidates are on the ballot. It is your way of saying “I’m here!” Now that the Presidential primaries have moved to a new date, so have our state primaries. There is so much more at stake, such as our U.S. Senate and House Seats, state executives, and Georgia House and Senate members in your district. Say “I’m here!” in the Georgia Presidential Primaries now through June 9th.
We are actively working to ensure you can freely access the ballot box and many public health professionals are encouraging us to vote by mail. Therefore we recognize that many of us may not be familiar with how to vote by mail; that is why Women Engaged is here for you. Contact us at [email protected] or 404-474-2900 and one of our trained specialists will assist you.
Additionally we are actively looking for people who are passionate about giving our communities the information that we need to thrive. If this sounds like you, we would love for you to sign up to be a part of our dynamic volunteer team today. No experience required. As a volunteer you will receive crisis call management training, the latest in grassroots technology, and access to some of the current community organizing skill-building techniques. Importantly you will get to join an amazing community of leaders providing each other support and empowerment. Sign up today and we will reach out to you directly!
Don’t worry if you can’t sign up now, that is okay, you are still a part of our community and are doing your part to stay civically active while you shelter. Please share with your family and friends who would be interested in joining and learning more about our community at Women Engaged. Don’t miss a beat and be sure to like us on Facebook and give us a follow on Twitter and Instagram. You can also text “ENGAGED’ to 864237 to get information straight to your phone.
Photo Taken October 2019
We may be at home, but we are more powerful than ever as we come up with innovative ways to stay connected and build people power! We are hoping that you all take care of yourselves, your family, friends, and take action by voting or volunteering to inform others about their right to vote.
In Solidarity and Love,
The WE Team
***All photos displayed in this newsletter were taken prior to COVID-19 and social distancing practices.