We're working hard in New Mexico to make sure all #FamsThrive

Friday, February 07, 2014

By Jonathan Wong, New Mexico Program Coordinator

The past week has been exciting at Strong Families New Mexico. We held two successful events in Santa Fe showing our New Mexico state legislators how to support policy so all families can thrive. Last Tuesday we launched our Strong Families New Mexico Report Card and earlier this week we had a legislative briefing with our partners at the UNM Men of Color Initiative.

Over 40 partners and allies came to Santa Fe to share our report card with legislators at the Roundhouse. After a quick training, people formed small groups of 2 or 3 and proceeded to visit 8 legislators over the next 2 hours. Many legislators were receptive to our report card including Representative Liz Thomson who thanked us for our tremendous work. During these meetings with legislators many of our partners shared stories about how critical legislation affects them and the importance of passing bills like Senator Gay Kernan’s High School Diploma Equivalency Bill or defeating anti-family measures like the repeal of driver’s licenses for immigrants.

50+ people at the Roundhouse standing together and standing strong for all our families. More photos here

By the end of the meetings, many of the participants felt empowered and inspired. Virginia Necochea of the Coalition for Equity and Justice said, “I’ve learned so much. Now I feel like I can confidently move the issues of my organization.” Andrea Plaza of La Plaza de Encuentro shared how powerful it was to have cross-issue teams to network and have as partners for support in legislative meetings. In the end, Christopher Ramirez of the Men of Color Initiative said it was the best organized, best run advocacy day he had ever attended.

We continued to work with Christopher over the next week, building a panel of incredible leaders for our joint legislative briefing day this week. Our panelists included Dr. Lawrence Roybal of Enlace New Mexico and the UNM Graduate Resource Center, Moneka Stevens-Cordova of New Mexico Forum for Youth in Community, and Jaen Ugalde of the Men of Color Initiative.

During the legislative briefing, each of them shared stories on state of boys and men of color in New Mexico. Moneka spoke of a young man who had access to health insurance, but had to pay $200 in a co-pay to see a mental health provider. If this is the case in Albuquerque, she asked us to imagine how this would be for young men in smaller communities like Raton. Jaen spoke about his experiences as a young man of color and the importance of continued funding for the lottery scholarship. Without it, he said, he couldn’t afford college giving the tremendous increases in tuition over the past few years.

Legislators from across the state joined us for the legislative briefing as well. During our group discussion Representative Eliseo Lee Alcon from Milan, NM, talked about the need to increase resources for men of color so all men and all families in New Mexico can thrive. Senator Gerald Ortiz Y Pino from Albuquerque discussed the need to work together in building community and shaping policy that help men of color do well in New Mexico.

All in all, the last week has been incredible in showing the power of our Strong Families network and community at our state capitol. We are eager to continue our work so that all legislators recognize the important of Strong Families policies and all of our communities in New Mexico work together so our families have the rights, recognition, and resources we need to thrive.
Micaela Lara Cadena, Jon Wong, Kelly Francisco, Christopher Ramirez, Manuel López, Lawrence Roybal and other fabulous MOCI supporters after our great briefing —  in Santa Fe, NM. See more photos here

Strong Families New Mexico Legislative Working Group Members include: Encuentro, Enlace Comunitario, El Centro de Igualidad y Derechos, Families United for Education, Media Literacy Project, Men of Color Initiative, NM Asian Family Center, NM Dreamers in Action, NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, OLÉ – Organizers in the Land of Enchantment, Tewa Women United, Young Women United

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