It’s been a good year for ONE Oregon

ONE members Craig Rottman – CDL OR-1 & Carolyn Barber – CDL OR-3 reflect on the successes of ONE’s policy influence in Oregon.

On January 18, Senator Jeff Merkley organized a town hall event to speak with Oregonians about issues critical to our state. ONE members attended the town hall to share our voice.

Meeting with Senator Merkley

Delivering signed petitions to Senator Merkley: Carolyn Barber (ONE), Scott Macguire (Senator Merkley Office Manager), Kristy McPherson (ONE), and Mike Kalkofen (ONE).

As we were moving toward the front of the room to meet Senator Merkley, a woman stepped into the aisle and asked one of our members about his shirt—what did ONE mean? Upon hearing our explanation, her expression softened sympathetically. She said it sounded like good work, but we have plenty of problems at home. Why do we do what we do as advocates for ONE? Why should Americans care about people in Africa when we have so many problems at home? Why were we patiently waiting to meet Senator Merkley, not just as constituents but as volunteer leaders for ONE? A wise man once said that we help people because they need help—there is no other reason necessary.

And yet when we talk about global poverty as advocates, we frequently have to frame the conversation in a more pragmatic, quid pro quo position: we need to help people living in extreme poverty because it will increase US national security and because smart investments in proven programs will ultimately result in independence from foreign aid.

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 Kristy McPherson, Mike Kalkofen and Carolyn Barber calling Oregon ONE members to support World Food Day by posting a message via social media to promote nutrition in the fight against extreme poverty and malnutrition.

Regardless of how it is presented, there is work that needs to be done. As advocates, a big part of that effort is educating people about how supporting ONE can save lives. Over the past few months, the ONE Oregon team has had the privilege of representing the 22,241 ONE members in the state of Oregon,meeting with the Congressional staffs of US Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici as well as Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley in person. We sincerely thank these officials and their staff for meeting with ONE to address our initiatives.

During these meetings we delivered ONE’s voice through petitions signed by 1718 Oregon ONE members. The petitions requested that the final FY13 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill reflect the continuing investment and leadership of the United States in the fight against the global AIDS pandemic. In addition, we discussed:

-Conference Hosts: The International AIDS conference being held on US soil for the first time in nearly 30 years and the significance of being conference hosts.

-AIDS Support: We requested support for the US commitment to reach the beginning of the end of AIDS by 2015.

-PEPFAR: We requested flat funding in FY 2013 to support the 8 million people in the developing world who still need access to AIDS medication.

-Global Fund: We requested support to fulfill the final year of a $4 billion, 3-year pledge.

-Trade: We requested that members of Congress co-sponsor the bill to extend  the AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) fabric provision, at zero cost to US tax-payers, to save 300,000 African textile jobs.

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Mike Kalkofen (ONE), Brian Plinski (Rep. Bonamici District Representative), and Carolyn Barber (ONE)

 Each meeting was important, and for us, a constant reminder that being a part of ONE’s mission to fight poverty is a privilege. Every one of us has a different reason for being involved with ONE, what matters more is that we do it. What matters most is that we share what we know, that we provide a voice for those who do not have one. It is critical that we keep the light lit so that we are able to explain and help people understand that even though we are struggling at home, we cannot turn aside and ignore those who are suffering from conditions that can be cured. It was a good year for ONE Oregon, but we will continue to do more, to do what we can.