This piece was written by Ariel Branz, alumni of ourJewish Organizing Fellowship, class of 2016.
I’m reaching out today as a JOIN Fellowship alumna to tell you a story about why I want you to join me in supporting JOIN’s year-end fundraising campaign today.
At what was my JOIN placement and continues to be my current job, I organize mostly Spanish-speaking parents of color at an after school program run by St. Stephen’s Youth Programs, a non-denominational program run out of Episcopal churches. Throughout my fellowship last year, other fellows, trainers, and staff stood alongside me as I learned how to be a better organizer. But after Siyyum Graduation in May, I wondered: now what?
Then, something special starting happening. Our broader community showed up.
First, it was Shira, who coached me on an upcoming meeting plan. The meeting went so well that the parents unanimously committed to work on the state-wide No On 2 campaign to keep funding in their kids’ schools.
With the campaign in full gear, Liz joined the parents at a weekly Spanish phone bank. Lily, Batya, and Sarah cheered alongside the parents at a rally in Dorchester. Hannah took two days from her jam-packed job to help get out the vote. All of these people were members of the broader JOIN community, current Fellows, alumni of my class, and alumni of other classes too!
The parents of St. Stephen’s Youth Programs were the strongest, largest, and most effective group of Spanish-speaking parent leaders in the whole state!
In the end, we won No On 2, and we won with heart. Before I even got home on election night, parents were calling: “We won! Can you believe we did it? If we can do this, just think about what else we can do!” I felt so proud of this community of parent organizers.
After it was over and we had celebrated our win, one of the parent leaders and I wiped sticky sparkling cider from the tables in the church basement. She looked at me and said, “Ariel, I noticed your community showed up here, too. You have a really special Jewish community, don’t you?”
I do. We do.
JOIN helps us forge the relationships that keep us learning and growing. And then, we keep showing up for each other. In the weeks since the election, when the fight ahead feels daunting, I keep thinking: This is how we’re going to win. We, as a Jewish community, will show up together in the struggle for racial justice. We will stand together in the fight for immigrant justice. And when we have to push for educational justice or economic reforms? JOIN will be there organizing alongside leaders on the front lines of these struggles-and winning.
JOIN is here to back us up on all these fronts, but they need all of us to back them up. I am ready to support JOIN. Will you join me by making a end-of-year gift?
This year, let’s show JOIN we know what it means to stand together.