This Thursday, our country will join together in celebrating a national day of gratitude. Whether you have the opportunity to be surrounded by loved ones and good food, or are spending the day on your own, we join you in reflecting on all that 2016 has brought.
We recognize that this has been a hard year for many across our community of formerly incarcerated people (FIP) and those directly impacted by the criminal justice system, and beyond. Perhaps you will be observing the holidays while incarcerated, or without an incarcerated loved one by your side. Whether serving time on a wrongful conviction or paying the debt that a broken system has deemed necessary for a crime you did commit, we know how challenging incarceration is for both the person inside and the people they are forced to leave behind on the outside. Perhaps the election results did not leave you feeling like you have much to be proud of as an American this holiday season. Perhaps you are disheartened by racial injustice and that so much of our country does not view it as a needed point of change. Perhaps environmental protection and the treatment of our indigenous brothers and sisters brings you sadness, or anger. Perhaps you are fearful that our nation may soon reverse decades of progress, that true equality in our nation now seems further away and harder to achieve, that human rights recently deemed basic and necessary may be rescinded. Perhaps you are suffering more personal hardships and disappointments. We stand with you.
But we also work hard to stay focused on the positive. Here are some of the achievements that we have to be thankful for this year:
While we, too, find ourselves with many battles to fight and loses to mourn in 2016, we are incredibly grateful for the good that this year brought to us, to our community, to the country, and even to the world. We hope that you, too, find joy and success to celebrate this Thursday.
Give thanks by giving back.
This year, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, VOTE is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to charitable giving and volunteerism.
In working to reform Louisiana's broken criminal justice system, VOTE fights to help not just one person, but hundreds, thousands, even a hundred thousand. While much of what our community organizers do every day connects directly impacted people with the resources they need to seek opportunity and to thrive, the bulk of our organizational work focuses on big-picture changes like sentencing reform and fair housing policies. We may help a mother and son find a ride to Angola State Penitentiary to visit a loved one, or host the LSU Dental School's Toothbus for free dental screenings in our parking lot, but we're suing the Louisiana Secretary of State to get voting rights back to everyone in the state on probation and parole at the same time.
This work is not done in a silo. We are deeply rooted in our community and rely on our members to provide us with direction. We partner with a vast array of local and national organizations who focus on various aspects of criminal justice reform and related work. But more than anyone, we couldn't do this work without the support of our donors and volunteers. That's why we joined #GivingTuesday.
Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday. Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities.
As you spend the upcoming holiday reflecting on all that we have to be thankful for, we hope you'll join us on #GivingTuesday by making a gift to support our work. But whether you use this season of gratitude and giving to support criminal justice reform through VOTE or you give to another charity whose work is important to you, whether you give your time or your money, whether you tell the world that you participated in #GivingTuesday by using the hashtag on social media or you give anonymously, we are happy to count you among the socially-conscious supporters of charitable work.
Thank you in advance,
Our Deputy Director, Bruce Scottus Reilly, can't vote until he turns 65. Help us overturn Louisiana's voting ban for people on probation and parole by joining our Louisiana Campaign for Democracy: http://www.vote-nola.org/campaign-for-democracy.html
Last week, VOTE Lead Organizer Dolfinette Martin and State Organizer Robert Goodman discussed voting rights with Adrienne Wheeler of the Justice and Accountability Center's radio show, All Rise, on WHIV New Orleans. The weekly show promotes equal human rights and justice for all, and "speaks truth to power."