It was my fourth day on the job as an intern and I was on my way to Washington, D.C. for the We Won’t Wait Summit. That night my new coworkers and I shared a family style meal together before having a meeting about our roles at the summit. I would be helping to shuttle women from plenary to breakout sessions and guiding moms with their children to childcare.
The We Won’t Wait summit was powerful. It brought together over 1000 women from organizations such as MomsRising, Hand In Hand, Black Women’s Roundtable, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Color of Change, the Ms. Foundation and others to amplify the power of women of color and low-income women to advance a new economic agenda. These women discussed the myriad needs and issues facing their families including access to paid leave, the right to good jobs and fair wages, high-quality and affordable child care and elder care, and just and comprehensive immigration reform. Among them, more than 400 domestic workers, many of whom were immigrants with little legal recourse against violations of minimum wage or overtime standards, chanted We Won’t Wait! through the halls of the conference center as they arrived. The summit was truly inclusive, providing childcare and offering live translation in five languages.
I have been working in the mental health field for the last five years, building communities for people with serious mental illnesses. I knew little about the world of care. At the summit, I learned that Caring Across Generations is not a one issue campaign; it is changing the entire system of care by pushing for affordable long-term care insurance, caregiver training and support, paid family leave, fair wages for domestic workers and domestic workers rights, and the right to age in place instead of going to a nursing home or assisted living facility. I also learned the power in acknowledging that we don’t lead one-issue lives.
Monday night we held a vigil for Jordan Davis, Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice. On the way to the vigil the bus driver gave us a mini-tour of Washington, D.C. Across the aisle from me was a woman crying. When she was asked what was wrong, she said she was happy, that she never thought she would see D.C. I realized how privileged I am to have visited Washington three times. Some of the professional caregivers I was with wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to Washington if it weren’t for this convening. At the vigil, the mothers of Jordan Davis and Tamir Rice and the sister of Sandra Bland shared the stories of the young black individuals killed by police and vigilantes, calling for an end to the violence. I felt incredibly moved; I had seen the mothers of men killed by police on TV, but it was an entirely different experience to see them in person and bear witness to their pain.
The We Won’t Wait summit had a profound experience on me. It taught me about the intersectionality of care in this country and the importance of addressing the rights of professional in-home caregivers, while at the same time addressing the issues faced by family caregivers and elders. It solidified my interest in the work being done by Caring Across Generations, and also gave me the opportunity to get to know my new CAG family. I look forward to working with Caring Across Generations for the next year!