Garamendi’s WIN Women’s Advisory Committee Convenes for Conversation on Health Care, Education, Economic Opportunity & the New Administration

Mar 3, 2017 Issues: Women

MARYSVILLE, CA – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Yuba City, Fairfield, Davis ,CA) reconvened his Women’s Initiative Network (WIN), the 3rd District’s Women’s Advisory Committee. Approximately 70 women participated in a wide-ranging roundtable discussion focused on health care access, mentorships, job opportunities, education, and more.

He started the meeting by noting that he had just come back from reading to two classrooms in Marysville for Read Across America Day.

“If we could give young students all that they need, then the future would be a great one. I just left two classrooms with students full of potential. They deserve their shot at the American Dream, and that starts with support for our public schools,” Congressman Garamendi said.

After his remarks, several women leaders provided their insights.

Yuba College Professor Neelam Canto-Lugo discussed the many times she’s been impressed by the tenacity and focus of students who have had to overcome great challenges in life, like victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking. She mentioned that she was a woman, an immigrant, a divorcee, a cancer survivor, a mother, a wife, and a grandmother, and that at various points in history, one could be persecuted for being all of those things.

“Being an educator doesn’t just mean I educate them. They educate me all the time. They are imaginative. They are resilient. They are brave,” she said. “For those of us who have reached our goals, I hope we can reach out to all the women who haven’t made it yet.”

Rachel Farrell, the CEO of Harmony Health, described the services her clinic provides to Yuba-Sutter residents, especially for young mothers. She then highlighted the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act on community clinics. She has been warned that clinics like hers could see up to a 70% reduction in funding under the President’s steep cuts to discretionary social services.

“Under this Administration, all of us are quite concerned about the ability of safety net clinics to continue doing their work,” she said. “If we turn back the clock on health care coverage in America, it will lead to a catastrophic spike in emergency room visits. It doesn’t make sense.”

"Christina Blackman, CEO of the Davis Chamber of Commerce, opened up about her decision as an adult to return to school and explained why she decided to work with the Chamber after decades at a local credit union.

 “I love helping small businesses. I love encouraging people to Buy Local. We get to connect aspiring business owners to services to help them. When we’re successful, it improves the community,” she said.

She also described the recent spike in women-owned businesses and encouraged the WIN participants to be supportive of each other.

“If we all pull together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish,” Blackman added."

Marysville Vice Mayor Preet Didbal then described her unlikely path to elected public service. She credits women mentors for her success in life.

“I’m here because women in my life empowered me to reach for more. We don’t need to tear each other down. There’s plenty of opportunity out there, and we are stronger when we work together,” Didbal said.

Following the featured speakers, the conversation was opened to the WIN roundtable.

One educator spoke about her concerns for public school funding given the current leadership at the Department of Education. She also described how many of her students, either undocumented or raised by an undocumented parent, are living in fear.

Another speaker active in Alzheimer’s awareness, whose son is currently in AmeriCorps, urged the Congressman to support programs that encourage young people to be engaged in volunteering and public service. The Congressman’s response was cautionary.

“The new budget zeroes out AmeriCorps. These programs are going to go away if the President’s budget is enacted,” Congressman Garamendi explained.

The conversation then focused on women’s health care funding given the current national climate and several of the struggles women face in the workplace, like unequal pay for equal work, the need for mentorship, and difficulties in obtaining paid internships at the beginning of their career.

“This is an important time to stay engaged,” Garamendi told the women in his closing remarks. “We’ve made tremendous progress in the past two years increasing our Alzheimer’s research budget. It could easily get cut. You talked about service programs. They could easily disappear. The Affordable Care Act and funding for clinics is at risk. Everything is in jeopardy. In times like these, we need women like you, active in your community, showing people how their lives will be harmed by these policies.”

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