ISAIAH News: Acting on our Faith
to Create a Better World
Greater MN Agenda for Healthy Communities
Over the past several years, we have been developing leaders and expanding our influence in Greater Minnesota.
Greater Minnesota leaders have held over 6,000 conversations with people of faith – from Willmar to Saint Cloud, Faribault to Moorhead, Northfield to Saint Peter, and many places in between.
From these conversations, they have developed the “Greater Minnesota Agenda for Healthy Communities,” and are launching it through a series of prayer breakfasts, candidate forums, leadership assemblies, and door knocking events.
The first two events were held in late September with candidate forums in Northfield and Willmar engaging 300 people of faith, 10 candidates for state office, and 16 candidates for local office such as mayor, school board and city council.
The Greater Minnesota Agenda focuses on supports for caregivers such as paid leave, paid sick time and affordable childcare; rights for immigrants, especially access to driver’s licenses; and investments in shared public infrastructure such as transit, mental health care, and clean energy.
Investing in Shared Community Resources – Transit
The lack of transit in Greater MN means hard-working people are unable to travel to available jobs, elderly people cannot get to their doctor appointments, and many in our communities are disconnected from the basic services needed to survive.
Our communities will be stronger, our people will be healthier, and our economies will thrive when we increase our investments in shared community resources. We must expand the Northstar rail line to Saint Cloud and increase transit funding throughout Greater Minnesota.
Caring for our Caregivers – Paid Family Leave
Morgan with her grandmother.
Greater MN is aging more quickly than the Twin Cities metro. Family caregivers are having to make impossible choices between caring for their loved ones or losing a paycheck.
Morgan, from Northfield, is a third generation professional caregiver, but she worries about whether she will be able to care for her mother who is going blind without going into debt or losing her job. “Despite working so hard, my parents don’t have anything saved. The economic recession hit us hard. I shouldn’t have to worry if my parents will get good care while I’m working to pay the bills.”
Beverly from Willmar cared for her husband through a 14-year “medical nightmare” after he had a heart attack and stroke. Over that period of time, they learned how hard it is to find and keep work if you are sick or a caregiver. They had to sell land they had inherited and almost lost their home. “It was not me or my family that was broken, but a system that takes advantage of those who are sick and their families.”
As people of faith we must make certain that Minnesota families, like Morgan’s and Beverly’s, are able to love and care for one another through medical emergencies, birth and adoption.
Rights for Immigrants – Driver’s Licenses
Many of our immigrant neighbors are undocumented, and although they have to drive places, such as work, the grocery story, and the doctor, they cannot obtain a driver’s license. If they are pulled over by police, they risk deportation and their families risk being torn apart.
Armando knows what it is like to live in fear of being pulled over and losing your car. Many years ago before he was able to get a permit to work here, Armando was pulled over on a highway in Greater MN with his infant son in the back seat in the middle of winter. Despite his pleading, the police took away his car and told him to walk with his son to the nearest gas station to call someone to pick him up.
Situations like Armando’s leave people in his community living in fear, and strips them of the basic dignity of being able to drive their kids to school or get to work. The Bible tells us to welcome the stranger in the land, not once, not twice, but over and over again. As people of faith, we want our undocumented neighbors to be able to obtain driver’s licenses.
By working together, we can create healthy communities!