By Sara Hernon-Reeves and Hope Harvey
For those of us concerned by violations of human rights and by the lack of equality many people in this country face, the past few weeks have been excruciating. We have watched our government repeatedly show a lack of empathy towards immigrants, women, and the poor. On good days it can be difficult to maintain hope and faith that things will work out. On bad days it can be hard to even go outside and be a part of this world.
This hopelessness many of us at QuEST have felt over the past few weeks has left us looking for ways to resist, to fight back and stand up for a better world. When there is so much political violence happening in our federal government, many are calling for action and resistance in our local communities. It is no secret that people are feeling vulnerable, fed up, and outright unwelcome; it is impossible to partake in the conversations happening in Washington D.C. and people are giving up. Many people are on the edge of giving up, and we are working to turn their energy towards our state government. Advocating for our rights is what we have to do to change the culture of national politics, and we can start locally.
For the past few months, Sara and the other staff at the Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance spent many hours putting together their annual Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day. It is the Housing Alliance’s biggest event of the year, with 600 people from across the state of Washington descending on the State Capitol. Workshops gave people a crash course on current legislation, while also giving people the tools they needed to most effectively communicate with lawmakers. For both Sara, who works at the Housing Alliance, and Hope, who works at REACH, it was an honor to be a part of and witness such a massive, powerful political action. People met with their lawmakers for the first time and use their voices to enact change.
The barriers to participating in the political system can be discouraging and depressing, but hoping and working for change is radical. The QuEST program and our placement sites are giving us the tools we need to fight for basic human rights.