Austin’s Budget Choices – Join Mama Sana Monday at the Health and Human Services Committee at City Hall

Standard

If you believe that working towards EQUITY is important in Austin, if racial justice is important to you, please join us and raise your VOICE!

On Monday August 3rd, 2015 from 4-5 pm, the City of Austin Department of Health and stakeholders will be presenting key findings from the working group at the Health and Human Services Committee meeting.

Why??

To get community support on the proposed projects to address health inequities in Austin/Travis County. This presentation includes feedback from the last two community meetings.

Background

The City of Austin passed a resolution on May 7, 2015, to establish an Equity Assessment Tool for the city. This resolution passed as a result of the organizing work of our grassroots coalition. As a step towards creating the Equity Tool, the resolution mandated the city to create a working group to address health inequities.

Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, ALLGO, the Alliance for African American Health of Central Texas (AAAHCT), and immigrants’ rights organizers are stakeholders in that working group. As part of this process, the Health Department will present a report back to the Health and Human Services Committee on Monday, August 3, 4 – 5 pm. At this meeting, our community coalition will be co-presenting with staff from the Health Department. We will be proposing that the City of Austin include funds in its 2016 budget to address health disparities with community based projects that are holistic, culturally specific, non-traditional, and based in community organizing.

If you agree, please come out and voice your support for culturally specific non-traditional health projects that examine the root causes of the disparate health outcomes of our city. The proposals address some of the deep systemic inequities in Austin with relevant and accessible community projects. The projects address chronic disease amongst the African American community, health and wellness for LGBTQ communities of color, mental health services for immigrant communities, and maternal and infant health using a midwifery model.

Join us on Monday August 3rd, 2015 from 4-5pm at City Hall, 301 W. Second St.

Childcare and snacks provided.
unnamed

Help Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman secure access to community based, culturally specific healthcare and birthing options for mamas and families throughout Texas!

Standard
At Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, we know that in order for all mothers and babies in Austin to be healthy, it is essential that social, racial, and economic equity exist for the whole community.

mamasana2

With your support this year, we were able to:
  • Produce a report “Austin- A “Family-Friendly” City: Perspectives and Solutions from Mothers in the City,”
  • Organize members of the community to persuade the City of Austin to pass a resolution to establish an Equity Assessment Tool for the city,
  • Challenge the Texas Jail Commission about its treatment of pregnant women in detention,
  • Support 35 women during the prenatal, childbirth and/or postpartum period,
  • Support at least 25 families with basic needs during emergencies.
Now that the resolution has passed, the hard work of implementation is ahead of us. We are committed to ensuring that the people most impacted by city policy are actively leading and participating in the process.

Your generous donation will allow us to continue doing our work!

This fall we will be organizing folks most directly affected by inequities in Austin to hold the city accountable for longstanding disparities. Together, we will ensure that the city develops an equity tool th

at makes sense for all Austin families. We will also pressure the City of Austin to include funds in its 2016 budget for community-based projects that are holistic, culturally specific, non-traditional, and based in community organizing.

We need your continued support! We are an all-volunteer organization, working mothers coming together to organize and build a critical mass of community members to make Austin truly a city that is family-friendly for all. We rely on supporters like you who care about these issues to help defray expenses.

You might also consider becoming a Sustaining Donor. Sustaining gifts provide on-going and reliable support so we can focus on our activities. For example, with a monthly donation of $

10, you can help us meet all our event printing needs for the year.

Make a commitment and give today! A gift of any size will be deeply appreciated.

In solidarity and with deep gratitude, thank you.

Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman
Donate today to support our ongoing work, like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to receive updates and information about our work.

Come Out to Raise Your Voice and Support Racial Justice and Equity Issues in Austin, TX!!

Standard

Join Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, ALLGO, immigrant’s rights organizers, the Alliance for African American Health of Central Texas, and other community members working on racial justice issues in Austin.

The City of Austin passed a resolution on May 7th to establish an Equity Assessment Tool for the city. This resolution passed as a result of the organizing work of our grassroots coalition. As a step towards creating the Equity Tool, the resolution mandated the city to create a working group to address health inequities.

Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, ALLGO, the Alliance for African American Health of Central Texas (AAAHCT), and the organization previously named Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition are stakeholders in that working group. As part of this process, the Health Department will host the first of two community meetings on Thursday, July 9, 6-8pm. At this meeting, our community coalition will be co-presenting with staff from the Health Department. We will be proposing that the City of Austin include funds in its 2016 budget to address health disparities with community based projects that are holistic, culturally specific, non-traditional, and based in community organizing.

If you agree, please come out and voice your support for culturally specific non-traditional health projects that examine the root causes of the disparate health outcomes of our city. The proposals address some of the deep systemic inequities in Austin with relevant and accessible community projects. The projects address chronic disease amongst the African American community, health and wellness for LGBTQ communities of color, mental health services for immigrant communities, and maternal and infant health using a midwifery model.

If you believe that working towards EQUITY is important in Austin
If racial justice is important to you
Please join us and raise your VOICE!

The City of Austin Department of Health will host a community meeting on Thursday July 9th 6-8pm at the Southeast Health & Wellness Center, 2901 Montopolis Drive, Austin, TX 78741. Why? To get community input on proposed projects to address health inequities in Austin/Travis County.

Come out next Thursday July 9th- 6-8pm
Raise your Voice for Racial Justice in healthcare in Austin/Travis County!
Childcare, Food and Spanish Interpretation will be available

Community Health Forum Flyer

Austin City Council Votes Yes to New Equity Tool!!

Standard

Thanks to all of your help and suppurt, the equity tool resolution PASSED at Thursday night’s city council meeting! For everyone who showed up from around Austin, Thank YOU!! It really, really helped for the Council to see all of the support there is from the community. Next step is making sure that the resolution’s implementation truly involves the people most impacted by city policy…

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, at the press conference on Thursday morning, said: “Persistent health disparities are not solved through healthcare improvements alone. Those of us who are now in city government did not initiate these disparities – they have existed for a long time – nor have we consciously chosen to exacerbate them. Some of us have fought directly against them. But REGARDLESS OF INTENT, the effects of systemic inequalities are here and we must address them in our community.”

PRESS RELEASE – AUSTIN MOTHERS CALL INTO QUESTION THE CITY’S REPUTATION AS FAMILY-FRIENDLY.

Standard

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Paula X. Rojas, Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, paulax@mamabaila.com(512) 563-3113

Alejandro Caceres, Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, alejandro@austinirc.org512-703-7059

Priscilla Hale, allgo, priscilla@allgo.org512-751-5281

AUSTIN MOTHERS CALL INTO QUESTION THE

CITY’S REPUTATION AS FAMILY-FRIENDLY.

They Urge City Leaders to Enact Recommendations

That Will Support Families of Color to Thrive in Austin.

Austin, TX. May 7, 2015: City council will vote on a resolution today at 6:30pm to decide if the city of Austin will implement an Equity Assessment Tool to address racial inequities in the city. Mothers and families will testify during the public hearing.

Leading up to the national Mother’s Day holiday, members of Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman released a report today, Austin – A “Family-Friendly” City: Perspectives and Solutions from Mothers in the City. The group looked at key indicators that affect the health and well-being of families and evaluated the lived experience for low-income families of color in Austin. The report data provide significant insights on the impact of race and class on the quality of Austin families’ survival. “All inequities in Austin impact the health of mothers and their babies,” said Kellee Coleman, Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman Program Coordinator. “This Mother’s Day, we want more than flowers and cards -we want the city of Austin to take action to support the health and wellness of ALL our mothers and babies, and ALL our families.”

Austin – A “Family-Friendly” City offers concrete recommendations to move Austin towards becoming a model city in equitable development:

1) Develop and implement an equity assessment tool, in collaboration with community organizations by and for those directly impacted, to guide all policy-making endeavors of the city; and

2) support demonstration projects that directly address health inequities affecting pregnant women individually and collectively in Austin.

The proposal for a city-wide equity tool is a collaborative initiative among Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, allgo – a statewide queer people of color organization, and Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC). “Austin city government should play a proactive role in advancing equity in all aspects of city policies. This type of equity assessment tool is critical in helping the city change the underlying inequalities that exist here. Successful examples are already in place in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon,” said Priscilla Hale, Director of allgo and lifelong Austin resident. Austin Mayor, Steve Adler agreed, adding, “Persistent health disparities are not solved through healthcare improvements alone. Those of us who are now in city government did not initiate these disparities – they have existed for a very long time – nor did we consciously choose to exacerbate them.  Some of us may have directly fought against them. But regardless of intent, the effects of systemic inequalities are here and we must address them head-on now.”

Of particular concern to Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman is the issue of maternal and infant health. Statistics show that Black women in Austin and Travis County have dangerously poor maternal health outcomes and that both Black and Latina women in Austin receive late prenatal care or none at all at rates two and three times that of White women. Even more striking is that Black and Latino infants are far more likely to die within the first year of life than are White infants. This gap is wider in Austin/Travis County than it is in the state of Texas and in the US overall. As Paula X Rojas, community organizer and Midwife with Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, explained, “Austin is known for having an abundance of birth support options and services for childbearing women, but they’re not available to all of our city’s women – especially those women who need them most.”

In response, Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman has developed an innovative pregnancy clinic model that combines health care services with community organizing and uses a culturally congruent model that directly addresses these racial and economic inequities. “The Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman project can effectively increase access to the midwifery model care for working class families, especially families of color, in a culturally appropriate and sustainable way,” according to local midwife Christy Tashjian, CPM, LM, WHNP.

Dell Medical School’s inaugural chair of Women’s Health, Amy Young, offered her support: “Women in Travis County – no matter where they live, where they’re from or what they earn – deserve great health care. That goal is something we all share, and strategies like the two recommendations from the Austin- a “Family-Friendly” City report show it’s achievable. The Dell Medical School shares the goal of making Austin a model healthy city. That simply isn’t possible when some neighborhoods in Austin aren’t as healthy as others.”

Amnesty International USA’s Managing Director of Research, Rachel Ward, commended the report, as a “timely and much needed effort to address the human rights crisis in maternity health care in Austin, Texas.”  In addition, the report has received endorsements from national groups MomsRising, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and the National Perinatal Taskforce.

Implementation of these recommendations can create real change, according to Alejandro Caceres, Executive Director of AIRC.  “Austin has the opportunity to become a model city leading the way in equitable development. Growth does not have to equal race- and class-based displacement in the city, and we can ensure that our community values are made real for all residents.”

View this morning’s news conference here: http://austintx.swagit.com/play/05072015-916

Link to full report:https://mamasanaclinic.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/mamasana-book-final.pdf

Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman is a women’s health project of Mamas of Color Rising, a volunteer social justice community organization focused on issues affecting poor and working class mothers of color in Austin founded in 2008. The Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC) promotes human rights and dignity, and social and economic justice for immigrants through community organizing, policy advocacy, and public education. allgo envisions a just and equitable society that celebrates and nurtures vibrant queer people of color communities.

PRESS ADVISORY: AUSTIN MOTHERS CALL INTO QUESTION THE CITY’S REPUTATION AS FAMILY-FRIENDLY.

Standard

MEDIA ADVISORY — UPDATED
For Immediate Release

Paula X. Rojas, Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman
paulax@mamabaila.com, (512) 563-3113

Alejandro Caceres, Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition
alejandro@austinirc.org, 512-703-7059

Priscilla Hale, allgo
priscilla@allgo.org, 512-751-5281

AUSTIN MOTHERS CALL INTO QUESTION THE
CITY’S REPUTATION AS FAMILY-FRIENDLY.

They Urge City Leaders to Enact Recommendations That Will Support Families of Color to Thrive in Austin.
WHAT: Press Conference by community organizations with recommendations for city government to address current racial, socio-economic, and health inequities in the city of Austin. Conveners include Austin Immigrants Rights Coalition (AIRC), allgo – a statewide queer people of color organization, and Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman (MS/VW), which will launch the first in a series of reports on these issues.

WHEN: Thursday May 7th 9 – 10 am.

WHERE: Austin City Hall, 301 W 2nd St, 78701. (Paid parking is available in City Hall’s basement garage.)

WHY: Leading up to this Mother’s Day, members of MS/VW and their partner organizations will release the first in a series of reports, “Austin – A ‘Family-Friendly’ City: Perspectives and Solutions from Mothers in the City,” which calls into question Austin’s reputation as “family-friendly.”

WHO: MS/VW, AIRC, and allgo are community-based organizations representing those groups directly impacted by the growing inequities in our city fueled by Austin’s explosive growth. A recent study from the Martin Prosperity Institute determined that Austin is the most economically segregated city in the country.
Speakers at the press conference will include members of community organizations, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, City Council member for District 2 Delia Garza, Dell Medical School’s inaugural chair of Women’s Health, Amy Young, and others.

Also on Thursday, May 7, at 6:30 pm, the Austin City Council will have a public hearing to discuss whether city government should implement an equity assessment tool, as recommended in the report. Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, and allgo are inviting community members to come and testify.

Link to full report: https://mamasanaclinic.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/mamasana-book-final.pdf

Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman Clinic Releases New Report Examining Racial Inequities In Austin, Texas!

Standard

Austin is recognized as a “family-friendly” city but is this true for all of its residents? Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, a women’s health project of Mamas of Color Rising*, presents community-based participatory research that calls into question Austin’s reputation as a family-friendly city for the majority of its residents. The research looks at key indicators that affect the health and well-being of families and evaluates the lived experience for low-income women of color and their families in Austin. The methods include focus groups and surveys as well as individual and group interviews. Taken together, the primary and secondary data provide key insights that show that race and class impact how well families thrive and even survive in Austin.

This report offers concrete recommendations to city government and to the community at large in order to move Austin towards becoming a model city in equitable development.

Check out Full Report Here.


Here are some other important opportunities to come out and show support:

PRESS CONFERENCE – Thursday May 7th, 2015 9-10am at city hall

Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, Austin Immigrants Rights Coalition and allgo will present their recommendation for a city Equity Tool. Here we will also launch our Mamas report.

Thursday May 7th, 2015 from 6:30-8PM at the Austin City Council Meeting

There will be a Public Hearing for people to testify and show their support for Austin implementing an Equity Tool. This tool would help assess city policies and help determine how money is used by the city. This effort is an attempt to push the city to prioritize city policies and decisions that advance the city to be MORE EQUITABLE. Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, Austin Immigrants Rights Coalition and allgo are working together to move this forward.  COME OUT AND TESTIFY IN SUPPORT OF THIS RESOLUTION. If you are not interested in speaking, please come and stand in solidarity with us!

Take Action Feb 5th 9am- Demand Care and Justice for Pregnant Women in TX Jails

Standard

WE NEED your continued support!
Join Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, Mamas of Color Rising, and the Texas Jail Project next Thursday Feb. 5th at the public hearing to support the rights of pregnant inmates across Texas.

What: Texas Commission on Jail Standards Public Meeting

Where: William P. Clements Bldg.
300 W. 15th Street, 1st Floor, Rm 103

Time: 9-10am. Come early- 8:45am if possible. (small room)

Find: A Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman rep. with a clipboard and stickers

Thanks to all of you who signed our Nov 6th Call to Action to demand that:
1) the current minimum standards of care be implemented and enforced,
2) more specific written policies and procedures be established, and that
3) all pregnancies and pregnancy outcomes begin to be documented in jails across Texas.
At the last public hearing in Nov. 2014 our members testified and shared the story of Shela Williams, who after receiving inadequate care in Travis County Jail had a stillbirth this past summer. We offered a strong rebuttal to the Commission’s claim that it can not provide pregnant women with adequate medical care in all county jails due to lack of doctors in some rural counties, by proposing that midwives serve as alternative providers. We also presented a set of specific recommendations to serve as a starting point for written policies and procedures for maternal health care. Your support strengthened the voices of the formerly incarcerated women and other Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman members who testified at the hearing! 177 individuals and 23 organizations officially signed on to the letter we presented to the Commission.

Thank you for your support and participation.
We hope to see you at the next Thursday’s hearing as we escalate our demands for humane care for pregnant women in Texas jails.
Stand with us, wear a sticker, be counted!

In the meantime, please consider making a donation
to support this volunteer effort.

At Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, we are working towards a just and loving world;
where all mothers receive, attentive, quality, loving care,
and where all communities have equitable resources to care for their children.

Equitable Criminal Justice Starts in the Womb

Standard

mural 12th adn chicon

Rojas: Equitable criminal justice starts in the womb

Posted: 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015

By Paula X. Rojas – Special to the American-Statesman

As we enter the new year, we are confronted with a new collective awareness of police brutality occurring around the country. But are we identifying and addressing the abuses of the criminal justice system occurring right here in our community of Austin? Are we caring for all our community members?

Austin has a history of racial profiling by the police, just like most other cities in the U.S. There are numerous local cases of unarmed civilians killed by police officers. This egregious treatment is not limited to the streets of our cities. As a mother and a midwife, I see firsthand how it begins much earlier — as early as the womb.

In the summer of 2014, Shela Williams gave birth to a stillborn child while in the custody of the Travis County sheriff’s department. Williams, a 29-year-old black woman who lives in East Austin, was placed in the Travis County Jail when she was 18 weeks pregnant. Her pregnancy was high-risk, and her health was being monitored by a specialist. She informed the guards and nurses of this when entering the jail and requested follow-up care, but that request was not granted for weeks.

Finally, a doctor examined Williams and coldly informed her that her child “wasn’t going to make it.” Williams was later sent to an area hospital to deliver her stillborn child, a boy named Israel. At the hospital, a midwife helped Williams with her delivery, and then dressed Israel so that Williams could hold him for the night before returning to her cell. During this ordeal, Williams was shackled and a jail guard was stationed at the door. She was not allowed to attend her son’s funeral.

Israel could be alive today. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards has basic minimum standards for the care of pregnant women in county jails. They also clearly state that a woman who is in labor should not be shackled. (That one has to write this sentence is an obscenity). And yet these standards remain unenforceable, due to a lack of an accountability mechanism and funding.

As a result, pregnant women have to fight for their rights to basic accommodations and care. At times they do not receive timely prenatal attention, leading to miscarriages and stillbirths. Jail officials can ignore them with little to no consequence. In other words, these officials can determine that the lives of Shela Williams and her unborn child do not matter. There is a stark racial dimension to this, as black and Latina women represent a demographic that is disproportionately growing among the prison population.

But Williams refuses to remain silent, and she has begun speaking out about her ordeal. She has also joined Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman and the Texas Jail Project’s campaign to demand that: 1) the current minimum standards of care be implemented and enforced, 2) more specific written policies and procedures be established, and that 3) all pregnancies and pregnancy outcomes begin to be documented in jails across Texas.

Going forward, we can do more to listen to local experts who are living and/or working directly on these issues. Only when we are grounded in the realities of those most impacted can we discover a way forward. It is not just about valuing the humanity of Shela Williams and other people caught in the criminal justice system. It is about reclaiming our own.

Rojas is a licensed midwife, community organizer and trainer with over 20 years experience working at the intersections of race, class, gender and age. She is a member of Mamas of Color Rising and a co-founder of Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman Pregnancy Clinic.

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/opinion/rojas-equitable-criminal-justice-starts-in-the-wom/njhCN/

SAVE THESE DATES
Continue supporting our work- attend our upcoming events!
  • Thursday Feb 5th 9AM – next Public Hearing of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards
  • Saturday Feb 14th 6PM – screening of Trust Black Women
MORE DETAILS COMING SOON!

_______________________
At Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, we are working towards a just and loving world;
where all mothers receive, attentive, quality, loving care,
and where all communities have equitable resources to care for their children.

Please consider making a donation towards our all-volunteer effort, thanks!

mamasana

Thank you from Mama Sana

Standard

best painting pic

THANK YOU to all of those who signed on to the Nov 6th call to action from Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman and Mamas of Color Rising to demand that the Texas Commission on Jail Standards implement current minimum standards of care, establish written policies and procedures, and begin to document all pregnancies and pregnancy outcomes.


Our action was successful in bringing these issues to the top of the agenda! Our members testified and shared the story of Shela Williams, who after receiving inadequate care in Travis County Jail had a miscarriage this past summer. We offered a strong rebuttal to the Commission’s claim that it can not provide pregnant women with adequate medical care in all county jails due to lack of doctors in some rural counties, by proposing that midwives serve as alternative providers. We also presented a set of recommendations for care to serve as a starting point for written policies and procedures. Your support strengthened the voices of the formerly incarcerated women and other Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman members who testified at the hearing! 177 individuals and 23 organizations* officially signed on to the letter we presented to the Commission. The Commission members stated that they are seriously considering our recommendations. We will be continuing the pressure at the next Public Hearing of the Texas Jail Commission on February 5, 2015.

IN THE MEANTIME, AS MOTHERS WE STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH ALL OF THE MOTHERS, FAMILIES, AND COMMUNITIES ORGANIZING TO CHALLENGE POLICE BRUTALITY AROUND THE COUNTRY. This is not a new issue, but the powerful response from social movements is bringing mainstream awareness to the racist violence of law enforcement. We see the abuses of law enforcement and ICE as interconnected with the negligence, mistreatment and cruelty faced by incarcerated pregnant women. The systemic failure of US criminal justice is becoming apparent. THESE ARE ALL EXAMPLES OF A SYSTEM OF STATE VIOLENCE THAT DOES NOT VALUE BLACK AND BROWN LIVES. Please support the families by taking action in your local cities. If you are in Austin, join us this Saturday, December 13th, at the rally for the National Day of Action Against Police Violence at the Texas State Capitol, South Entrance at 12 noon.

Here are links to news coverage of our appearance at the hearing:

http://www.sacurrent.com/sanantonio/the-fight-for-better-care-for-pregnant-women-in-texas-jails/Content?oid=2347721
http://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/news/2014-11-07/what-jail-is-like/
http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/11/07/policing-pregnant-women-texans-demand-obstetric-care-county-jails/
http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2014/11/texas-commission-on-jail-standards-open-to-reccomendations-to-improve-treatment-of-pregnant-inmates.html/

Thank you for your support and participation.
We hope to see you at the next hearing as we escalate our demands for humane care for pregnant women in Texas jails.
In the meantime, please consider making a donation
to support this volunteer effort.

* list of organizations that signed on:

Allgo

Amnesty International USA

Association of Texas Midwives

Community Midwives

Elephant Circle

La Reunion Cooperative Austin Texas

Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity

Mama Baila

Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman

MomsRising

NARAL/Pro-Choice Texas

National Advocates for Pregnant Women

National Association of Certified Professional Midwives

Occupy Austin

Open Arms Perinatal Services

Resistencia Bookstore

Rise Up Texas

Son en Movimiento

Texas Jail Project

Texas Equal Access Fund

Texas Women’s Council

The Afiya Center

Wisconsin Guild of Midwives

mamasana