May 1, 2015 by Southern Maine Workers Center

A Belief In Caring For One Another: Building the HCHR Movement with Faith Communities

Health Care is a Human Right (HCHR) organizers from Portland were blessed to spend last weekend (April 25-26) learning and building community with members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth. On Sunday, Cait Vaughan and Barrett Littlefield were joined by more than 15 participants for a practical training in using the SMWC health care survey as a tool for gathering Mainers’ stories, and building up the power and reach of the HCHR campaign in the Downeast region.

Many participants were encountering the human rights framework for the first time, and readily delved into the deeper meanings of the principles, with special focus on universality and equity. The group practiced sharing each other’s stories through completing the survey in pairs, as well as talked through strategies for sticky conversations about financing and immigrant rights related to universal health care. There was a lot of focus on the power of listening and ‘witnessing’ our neighbors’ pain and resiliency. Participants were urged to lean into hard conversations and bring new people into the movement by going outside our typical social circles. Outreach and engagement with faith communities is essential to building a statewide movement powerful and soulful enough to demand and win a system that works for all of us, and SMWC is excited about the emerging partnerships within the HCHR campaign.

photo 3  photo (8)  photo 1

The Health Care Weekend at UUCE was inspired by a meeting of the Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network (MUUSAN) in Augusta last November, when SMWC’s newly hired HCHR organizer and two leaders from Maine AllCare visited to discuss Maine’s campaign to win a truly universal and publicly-funded healthcare system in our state.

Primarily organized by Robin Lovrien of the church’s Peace and Social Action Committee, the weekend kicked off on Saturday night with a screening of The Health Care Movie, followed by an open discussion of the potential benefits of a single-payer system, led by ME AllCare board member and advocate Dr. Phil Caper. SMWC organizers were welcomed to break bread with congregates prior to attending a special service, led by members of Portland’s Allen Avenue UU Church. The service focuses on exploring health care disparities wrought by the United States’ for-profit system through a series of stories and reflections interwoven with statistics. Acting as worship associate, Robin Lovrien lifted up the UU principle of caring for one another and invited those present to attend the SMWC-led survey gathering workshop to learn about joining the movement for health care as a human right.

We are grateful for the hospitality and dedication of Robin Lovrien, as well as the UUCE community as a whole. We are excited to have you as partners in this journey toward justice!