Building communities of care: a letter from Network Director Stacy Kono

Sheela, Lindsay and Stacy (left to right) at the West County Detention Center, Richmond, CA.

Sheela, Lindsay and Stacy (left to right) at the West County Detention Center, Richmond, CA.

Dear Hand in Hand, 

When I was young, I was learning Japanese, and one common phrase that I remember is “okagesama-de.” It’s something one says when they want to acknowledge another person. Like “Thanks to you.” The meaning is something like, “I am what I am because of you.”

I am what I am because of you

The phrase has stuck with me, because it expresses the deep connection between people—how much we depend on each other, are shaped by each other, and need each other.

I believe that all human beings are deeply connected. But there is a different story being told in our nation, one that encourages us to believe we are so different and separate from each other that some of us belong and some of us do not. It’s a story that claims that I must take care of myself by myself, and you have to do the same alone.

Today, an extreme version of this story is stoking hatred and violence against women, immigrants, people with disabilities, gender non-conforming people, people of color, and Jewish people.

I believe that recognizing how much we need each other is what will truly transform our times and shift us towards communities that care about our individual and collective well-being. 

So, how have we been creating caring communities at Hand in Hand this year? 

We brought the issue of care to our policy makers

From California to Seattle to Washington DC, Hand in Hand members inspired legislators to understand the value of domestic workers’ contributions to our communities. For example, we joined with domestic workers to support the passage of the Seattle Domestic Worker Ordinance, the first municipal law of its kind. A big deal!

In New York and the Bay Area, we also urged lawmakers to provide access to long-term and in-home care. Together with the NY Caring Majority coalition, we succeeded in amending the New York Health Act to include long-term care!

We created caring community by fighting back against attacks on immigrants

We organized 65 parent-and-child ‘protest playdates’ in over 30 cities to lift up the voices of domestic employers and families. We showed our care by organizing “a caravan” to the border to protest mass arrests of migrants, and showed up at Chase and Wells Fargo bank branches to connect their heartless investments in detention centers to the thousands of children who have been torn from their parents at the border.

We’ve grown our caring community internally by expanding our staff, National Steering Committee and membership base

On staff, we are happy to be joined by Suzanne Schmidt, as our new organizer in California; Diana Morales, our Administrative and Operations Manager; Tara Polansky as our Digital Organizer; and I joined in June as the Network Director! Our National Steering Committee also has expanded from three extraordinary, founding members—Gayle Kirshenbaum, Jessica Lehman, and Betsey McGee—to a crew of 16 people across the country, each caring community organizers in their own right. And our membership and online network are growing, with over 4,000 people on our list, and on the ground groups in New York, the Bay Area, Philadelphia, and Columbus, OH. 

Will you become a member today by contributing an amount that is meaningful to you? Click Here.

Your support has enabled us to inspire thousands of people to build communities that care—care about workers, about families, about seniors and people with disabilities, and about immigrant communities—who are working to make change in their homes, communities and at the government level.

With your continued support, Hand in Hand will be able to deepen our impact in 2019.

We will:

  • Partner with the National Domestic Workers Alliance to support a Federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to protect domestic workers across the country. The sponsorship of the bill was just announced yesterday;

  • Organize for affordable long-term care and respect for seniors and people with disabilities through our New York Caring Majority campaign and collaboration with the California Aging and Disability Alliance (CADA); and

  • Stand together with immigrant and other targeted communities to ensure safety, dignity and respect for all through our Sanctuary Homes campaign.

Will you become a sustaining member and contribute a monthly donation of $10, $20, $50, $100 or an amount that is meaningful to you? Click Here!

Your dollars become hours that our organizers spend working in communities. They become workshops, resources, vital campaign tools, and an ever-expanding community of people working for a more just and caring society.

When you support Hand in Hand, you are joining a powerful grassroots movement of people who know that domestic work makes all other work possible, and that we all need care and support to thrive.  

Join us today: Building caring communities will require all of us.

Okagesama-de—I am what I am because of you,

Stacy Kono

Stacy Kono