By Maddie Rocha-Smith, OFA Editorial Associate
The power and magic of grassroots organizing happens when people from different backgrounds can come together and set aside their differences to fight for issues that matter.
At least that’s how Judy S., an OFA volunteer from Albuquerque, New Mexico, has seen it play out through her decades-long experience as a volunteer and progressive leader in her community.
“The lesson I keep learning is that everyone has a role to play in this fight. The role can change over time and adapt, but if we take the time to listen and accommodate each other… the magic comes together,” Judy says.
Judy first joined the fight for equality in April 1968, when she heard about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio. Heartbroken along with millions of Americans at his death, she made a vow to herself to get involved in the Civil Rights Movement — and continue to fight against injustice in her own community.
She has upheld that promise for over 50 years.
Today, she continues that fight by advocating for issues like access to affordable health care for everyone. It’s an issue that hits home for Judy, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 after an annual mammogram that was fortunately covered by her insurance plan — one of 10 essential health benefits now guaranteed because of the Affordable Care Act.
Luckily, her doctors were able to detect the cancer early and take preventive measures to stop the growth. But she recognized that without her insurance covering mammogram screenings, she may not have been able to catch it as soon as she did. Her diagnosis reignited her advocacy work, and she soon began focusing her efforts towards supporting the Affordable Care Act — helping to make sure that as many women as possible could have access to quality and affordable health care.
“All women at risk should have free preventive screenings no matter their age or insurance source,” Judy says.
From access to affordable health care to the long term effects of climate change — she worries what kind of world her grandson will inherit if people don’t start taking these issue seriously.
“I have a healthy fear for the future. Whatever impact climate change is going to have, I hope people can face these obstacles together because we are stronger in our communities when we work together.”
She adds that “I have seen that organizing works — and the more people get involved across generations, we can start rebuilding the norms of respectfulness and inclusion in our country.”
It’s been tough for Judy to keep her enthusiasm at times this year, but she credits the team of people around her that help her stay positive and committed to the important work ahead.
“Knowing I’m not alone and part of a bigger national group of people who want the same things for our country helps me keep going. Being isolated isn’t healthy. We need to get energy from each other, and recognize that there are people out there to sustain this momentum for change.”
We know that Judy’s health care story is not unique and that every woman should have access to quality, affordable health care.
While there are millions of people today who rely on Obamacare’s open marketplace to get covered, there are still millions more who don’t know where to start. And with only days left before the deadline for 2019 in most states — we’re asking you to help spread the word.