Updates

139 posts

Show a domestic violence victim she’s not alone.

Connecticut NOW is excited to launch this new project for 2019!

Knit or crochet a With-You Wrap.

In 2018, more than 38,000 victims of domestic violence turned to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and its 18 member organizations for counseling, shelter, court-based advocacy, and other essential services.

Wrap your arms around one of these adult or child victims by knitting or crocheting a “With-You Wrap” infused with your love, strength and supportive energy.

Created and run by the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the With-You Wraps Project is designed to make sure that no Connecticut victim of domestic violence ever feels alone. … That each time she wears a With-You Wrap, she feels the comfort and support of the person who made it: a person who believes in the victim’s strength and worth, and who will stand with her always.

Become a With-You Wrap volunteer by creating and donating a shawl today. Here’s how:

Step 1:
Knit or crochet a rectangular shawl with some kind of purple yarn. You choose the exact dimensions, but we recommend roughly 24 x 60 for an adult shawl, and 15 x 45 for a youth shawl. Whatever size you choose, we ask you purposefully include “3” into your design, whether it be that you use 3 different colors of yarn, cast on stitches that are a multiple of 3, or something different.

Why knit or crochet with a “3”? Because symbolically, 3 represents something that is sold, real, substantial, complete. To the Mayan people, 3 was the scared number of women, and to the Japanese it represents the “3 treasures” of truth, courage and compassion—all things domestic violence victims deserve and need. Consciously adding these components to your wrap will add power and meaning.

Why use purple or a purply yarn? Purple is the official color of Domestic Violence Awareness. But it’s more than that, too. Purple combines the calm of blue and the fierceness of red. It represents power, truth, justice, wisdom, independence and peace. Science has also proven that seeing purple can uplift spirits, calm the mind and nerves, and encourage the imagination.

Step 2:
Print and complete the With-You Wrap Submission Form and Card (PDF). The form is for Connecticut NOW to keep track of the number of wraps donated, as well as to let you know where your wrap was sent. The card allows you to send a personal message to the recipient of your wrap.

Step 3:
Mail your wrap along with the completed form and card to:

Cindy Wolfe Boynton

President, Connecticut NOW

26 Burwell Ave., Milford, CT 06460

When we receive your wrap, we’ll tie it in a purple ribbon, attach your card, and deliver it to a CCADV domestic violence shelter or other agency.

Please remember … There is no right or wrong way to knit or crochet a With-You Wrap. Create it with the intention of sending strength and support to the recipient, and you can’t go wrong.

Please email president@now-ct.org with any questions. Click here for a printable PDF of the above directions.

Share Button

Bus trip to see Gloria: A Life in NYC with Connecticut NOW!

Spend a day in sisterhood with Connecticut NOW on Saturday, Feb. 9, when we’ll travel together by bus to New York City to see the highly acclaimed “Gloria: A Life” – a play described as “a richly detailed tapestry about one of the most inspiring and remarkable women of our time.” Only 39 seats are available for this special trip, so book now! Cost of $110.00 per person includes a premium ticket to the 2 p.m. performance of the play; an after-performance theater talk-back with a special guest; comfortable, round-trip bus transportation from either Glastonbury or New Haven; and driver gratuity. After the play, we’ll have about 2 hours to eat or otherwise enjoy being in Manhattan before heading home. Timeline for the day:

* 10:30 a.m. pick up travelers leaving from the commuter parking lot at 3024 Main St., Glastonbury

* 11 a.m. pick up travelers leaving from the commuter parking lot facing Long Island Sound at Long Wharf in New Haven

* 2 p.m. see Gloria: A Life, followed by theater talk-back

* 4 p.m.-ish time on your own (with lots of great restaurants in the area)

* 6 p.m. leave NYC for return home

Reserve your space for what it sure to be an inspiring and empowering day!

 

 

Share Button

Travel to Washington, D.C. Women’s March with Connecticut NOW

Two of the incredible Connecticut activists who traveled with us to Washington in 2017.

In addition to participating in the Women’s March in Hartford, Connecticut NOW has chartered a bus to take CT NOW members and friends to the 2019 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Want to be part of the #WomensWave that on Saturday, January 19, 2019 will swell just steps from the U.S. Capitol? Come with us! Our bus will be picking up passengers in Glastonbury and New Haven. Cost per person is $60 for Connecticut NOW members and $75 for non-members. Price includes roundtrip travel in a luxury coach; snacks and drinks to keep you full and hydrated; the excitement and camaraderie that comes from standing up, and speaking out, with like-minded people; bus driver gratuity; and so much more. Space is strictly limited! If you want to attend, please purchase your tickets ASAP. Buying your tickets early will also help us know whether we need to pursue the possibility of chartering a second bus.

Timeline for the trip on January 19, 2019:

* 1:30 a.m. pick up travelers leaving from the commuter parking lot at 3024 Main St., Glastonbury

* 2 a.m. pick up travelers leaving from the commuter parking lot facing Long Island Sound at Long Wharf in New Haven

* 2:15ish a.m. pick up travelers from a Fairfield County commuter parking lot, exact location TBD

* 10 a.m. #WomensWave Women’s March begins

* 6:30 p.m. leave Washington for return home

Click here to reserve your seat. Limited space available.

Share Button

Labor Day Is Another Day Of Struggle For Working Women

A statement by national NOW President Toni Van Pelt:

Labor Day is meant to be a day of celebration, marking the contributions made by all working people in the U.S.—but for women, it’s a reminder of how far we remain from full equality.

Women make up 47% of the labor force and are the sole breadwinners in 40% of families with children—and yet, the wage gap between working women and men persists in nearly every occupation.

Despite civil rights laws and advancements in women’s economic status, workplace discrimination still persists. For women of color, this inequity can be devastating. According to the National Women’s Law Center, African American women working full-time are paid 64 cents for every dollar a man earns, and Latina women are paid 56 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Women remain segregated into jobs where they are underpaid and undervalued. Women make up 95% of the workforce in industries considered “women’s work,” such as home care, child care and housekeeping—yet most workers in these fields lack basic employment protections enjoyed by workers in other fields. And women are particularly vulnerable to an artificially low minimum wage that puts their families at risk.

Labor Day won’t be a holiday that’s truly worth celebrating until the gender pay gap is erased, the minimum wage is raised to at least $15, paid parental leave is universal and parents have access to subsidized childcare.

Until then, Labor Day will remain just another day for shopping and barbecue.

Share Button

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN, CONNECTICUT CHAPTER, ENDORSES 80+ CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR STATE OFFICES

August 20, 2018–The Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women (CT NOW) has endorsed more than 80 candidates running for state office in the November 2018 election.*

The endorsements are based on responses candidates gave to a CT NOW questionnaire. Questions were designed to show how candidates’ beliefs lined up with both Connecticut and national NOW’s legislative and policy priorities. Particular attention was paid to candidates’ answers on questions related to:

  • Reproductive rights and justice
  • Economic justice
  • Ending violence against women
  • Racial justice
  • LBGT rights (including marriage equality)
  • Constitutional equality

All Connecticut candidates were invited to complete the questionnaire. Only those who responded were considered.

“Issues at the core of today’s women’s movement–issues like reproductive rights, gender equality, family leave, access to education and equal pay–aren’t just women’s issues. They’re family issues,” said CT NOW Vice President Kate Hamilton Moser. “They’re also issues that Connecticut officials will likely face in the 2019 Legislative Session, and that are at the core of what NOW is all about. Connecticut NOW is committed to helping elect officials who are equally committed to the advancement of women’s, human rights and equality for all, and we are pleased to offer these endorsements.”

For Statewide Office

  • Governor Ned Lamont, Democrat
  • Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Democrat
  • Attorney General William Tong, Democrat
  • Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Democrat
  • State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, Democrat

For State Senate

  • Beth Bye, Democrat, 5th District
  • Terry Gerratana, Democrat, 6th District
  • Melissa Osborne, Democrat, 8th District
  • Matt Lesser, Democrat, 9th District
  • Gary Winfield, Democrat, 10th District
  • Martin Looney, Democrat, 11th District
  • Christine Cohen, Democrat, 12th District
  • James Maroney, Democrat, 14th District
  • Robert Statchen, Democrat, 18th District
  • Monica Brill, Democrat, 21st District
  • Julie Kushner, Democrat, 24th District
  • Bob Duff, Democrat, 25th District
  • William Haskell, Democrat, 26th District
  • Michelle Lapine McCabe, Democrat, 28th District
  • Chris Wright, Democrat, 31st District
  • Catherine De Carli, Democrat, 32nd District
  • Aili McKeen, Democrat, 34th District
  • John Perrier, Democrat, 35th District

For State House of Representatives

  • Matt Ritter, Democrat, 1st District
  • Raghib Allie-Brennan, Democrat, 2nd District
  • Mary Sanders, Green Party, 4th District
  • Joshua Hall, Democrat, 7th District
  • Brenda Falusi, Democrat, 8th District
  • Geoffrey Luxenberg, Democrat, 12th District
  • Jason Doucette, Democrat, 13th District
  • John Pelkey, Democrat, 14th District
  • Eleni Kavros DeGraw, Democrat, 17th District
  • Jillian Gilchrest, Democrat, 18th District
  • Derek Slap, Democrat, 19th District
  • Michael Demicco, Democrat, 21st District
  • Richard Ireland, Democrat, 22nd District
  • Matt Pugliese, Democrat, 23rd District
  • Gary Turco, Democrat, 27th District
  • Russell Morin, Democrat, 28th District
  • Kerry Wood, Democrat, 29th District
  • Joseph Aresimowicz, Democrat, 30th District
  • Laurel Steinhauser, Democrat, 32nd District
  • Theresa Govert, Democrat, 34th District
  • Jason Adler, Democrat, 35th District
  • Christine Palm, Democrat, 36th District
  • Baird Welch-Collins, Democrat, 38th District
  • Christine Conley, Democrat, 40th District
  • Emmett Riley, Democrat, 46th District
  • Kate Donnelly, Democrat, 47th District
  • Linda Orange, Democrat, 48th District
  • Susan Johnson, Democrat, 49th District
  • Patricia Wilson Pheanious, Democrat, 53rd District
  • Gregory Haddad, Democrat, 54th District
  • Tiffany Thiele, Democrat, 55th District
  • Michael Winkler, Democrat, 56th District
  • Thomas Arnone, Democrat, 5th8 District
  • Jane Garibay, Democrat, 60th District
  • Jack Henrie, Democrat, 61st District
  • Amanda Webster, Democrat, 62nd District
  • Candy Perez, Democrat, 63rd District
  • Maria Horn, Democrat, 64th District
  • Alex Larsson, Democrat, 66th District
  • Greg Cava, Democrat, 69th District
  • David Borzellino, Democrat, 80th District
  • Ryan Rogers, Democrat, 81st District
  • Hilda Santiago, Democrat, 84th District
  • Theresa Ranciato-Viele, 87th District
  • Joshua Elliott, Democrat, 88th District
  • Roland Lemar, Democrat, 96th District
  • James Albis, Democrat, 99th District
  • John-Michael Parker, Democrat, 101st District
  • Robin Comey, Democrat, 102nd District
  • Rebekah Harriman-Stites, Democrat, 106th District
  • Daniel Pearson, Democrat, 107th District
  • Mary Welander, Democrat, 114th District
  • Dorinda Borer, Democrat, 115th District
  • Cindy Wolfe Boynton, Democrat, 117th District
  • Kim Rose, Democrat, 118th District
  • Ellen Beatty, Democrat, 119th District
  • Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, Democrat, 123rd District
  • Charlie Stallworth, Democrat, 126th District
  • Jack Hennessy, Democrat, 127th District
  • Caitlin Pereira, Democrat, 132nd District
  • Cristin McCarthy Vahey, Democrat, 133rd District
  • Ashley Gaudiano, Democrat, 134th District
  • Anne Hughes, Democrat, 135th District
  • Jonathan Steinberg, Democrat, 136th District
  • Lucy Dathan, Democrat, 142nd District
  • Caroline Simmons, Democrat, 144 District
  • David Michel, Democrat, 146 District
  • Corey Paris, Democrat, 146 District
  • Matthew Blumenthal, Democrat, 147 District
  • Laura Kostin, Democrat, 151 District

Founded in 1970, CT NOW is proud to be part of the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. The grassroots arm of the women’s movement, we are one of more than 500 local and campus national NOW affiliates across the United States and a leader–rather than a follower–of public opinion. Learn more about us at www.now-ct.org.

*Updated October 1, 2018

Share Button

Women Key To Stopping Gun Violence

Mary Ann Jacob, left, listens as Carolyn Vermont dicusses gun violence at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, CT.

Note by regular Connecticut NOW blogger Carolyn Milazzo Murphy: I have a friend who has an adorable 3-year-old son in preschool. Shortly after the Florida school shooting in February that claimed 17 lives, she expressed her growing anxiety about sending her son off to preschool every day. “I want to do something, but I have no idea what to do,” she said. “What can I do?” It turns out, a lot. The night before, I sat in an audience at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport and listened to Mary Ann Jacob, one of the survivors of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown five years ago. As a gunman entered the school and began his killing spree, Jacob led 20 children to safety, hiding with them in a storage closet. Now an outspoken advocate for gun safety, Jacob wrote the following essay in response to my question: “What can the average woman do to help protect her children from gun violence?”

By MARY ANN JACOB

While the epidemic of gun violence in this country causes a ripple effect through families and communities, it affects women particularly hard. Domestic violence, mass shootings, day to day gun violence and suicide rip families apart every day, and women are most often the ones left to pick up the pieces of their families’ lives.

I know this personally, because on Dec.14, 2012, a gunman shot his way into Sandy Hook School while I was working in the library. As the gunman blasted his way through the hallway killing our principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung and our school psychologist Mary Sherlach, then two classrooms where he killed 20 first graders and four more educators, the rest of the staff was frantically hiding and protecting the children in their care.
When those of us who survived went home later that day, the first thing we had to do was be strong for our own children, several of whom also survived the shooting that day, and many of whom were school-aged children in other community schools. I can remember walking up to my front door, putting my hand on the doorknob and thinking, “Pull yourself together, you are about to see your two sons,” before I turned the handle. Within hours of surviving one of the worst mass shootings this country has ever seen, we had no choice but to put aside our own grief and trauma to take care of those around us.

Don’t be fooled, this is not a partisan political issue but a public health crisis like this country hasn’t seen since the outbreak of AIDS.

When the time came to return to school a few weeks later, we were faced with the choice of whether to take care of ourselves or others. The school district floated the idea of bringing in substitute teachers if we were not up to returning, but not one staff member thought the kids should return to a school full of strangers. Without exception, the staff at Sandy Hook School chose to be there to greet the surviving children as they returned to an unfamiliar school in a neighboring town. We held each other up as the days and weeks wore on so we could be there day in and day out for the students…because that’s what women do.
As time progressed and we grew stronger, many of us chose to add our voices to those calling for an end to the gun violence assaulting our schools, churches, offices and homes. We could no longer stand by while more children died day after day.
Eighteen months after the shooting at our school, I reached my own personal tipping point. I watched on TV as the horror unfolded after the shooting in Isla Vista, CA. I was shaken to my core as I watched Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was killed in that shooting, give his impassioned plea “Not One More” person be taken by gun violence. And I knew then it was my time to stand up and speak out.
I joined Everytown for Gun Safety and learned about the many issues surrounding gun violence in our country today:
+ 96 Americans are killed by guns every day.
+ Black men are 13 times more likely to be shot and killed with a gun than white men.
+ Over 50 women are shot to death by an intimate partner every month.
Who picks up the pieces of these families? Women.
So it’s no surprise that the effort to end gun violence has galvanized women across the country into action. Since the Sandy Hook School shooting millions of people – many of them women, have joined Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – an organization started by Shannon Watts in her kitchen following the shooting. We have almost as many members as the NRA and they’ve been around for over 100 years longer than we have.
.
Following the Feb. 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, FL., students have taken control of the conversation and infused the movement with new energy. More than 150,000 people have signed up to be volunteers with Moms Demand Action since the Parkland shooting and our movement is only growing stronger.
As I travel around speaking with groups about this epidemic of gun violence, many people thank me and ask me what they can do to help. Women especially, who are tired of seeing their children cry as they board the school bus, or afraid their children will be shot walking home from school in their neighborhood streets, have had enough.
We are marching, calling our elected officials, writing letters, educating others and running for office. This is a grassroots effort that has a place for each and every woman who is willing to take a stand. In 2018, more than 79 women are exploring runs for governor, more than double a record set in 1994. The women challenging incumbents in the US House of Representatives is roughly 350% higher than in 2016. Expect us – we are coming!

                 Women . . . have had enough.

Seven children and teens are killed with guns on an average day and many are the result of adults leaving loaded weapons around where children can find them. The BeSmart campaign teaches families about safe storage in their own homes. Women can lead the way by spreading the word, supporting the program and simply asking if guns are in the homes they visit. PTAs can be instrumental in supporting the effort in individual communities. Women physicians are spreading the word as they meet with families and children in their practices every day. Talking about gun sense should be as routine as pool safety, wearing a helmet on a bicycle and wearing a seatbelt.
Nearly 62% of the firearms deaths in the U.S. are suicides. Suicide is often an impulsive act and survivors rarely make a second attempt. But firearms are the most lethal means of committing suicide and individuals rarely survive the attempt to get treatment. As mothers, sisters and children we have firsthand knowledge of how suicide affects families for generations. Ensuring that our loved ones who may pose a danger to themselves don’t have access to guns is an effective way to reduce these numbers.
Background checks should be required for 100% of gun purchases in all states. We know that over 3,000,000 gun sales to dangerous people have been stopped by them. We can work with our representatives locally and in Washington to ensure that a criminal background check is made on all gun sales. They are the single most effective tool to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous mental illnesses. And please, when confronted with the ridiculous argument that criminals don’t follow laws, ask why it is we have any laws at all? We know that car safety has increased because of a comprehensive package of laws that include air bags, graduated licensing laws, stricter DUI enforcement, driver education and speed limits. Do people still speed? Of course, but many lives are saved nonetheless.
In addition to running for office, we as women can research and support candidates who reflect our values. Don’t be fooled, this is not a partisan political issue but a public health crisis like this country hasn’t seen since the outbreak of AIDS. We have the power to choose how we respond every day, and who we choose to represent us at a local, state and national level. Ask each and every candidate who wants your support what their positions are. And if those holding elected office or running for office put the interests of the gun lobby before the safety of our families, it’s time to vote them out. Click here if you’d like to support those efforts: https://everytown.org/throwthemout/
We have learned from the students in Parkland that we don’t need traditional media to keep the conversation going, just our smartphones and some pointed social media work. Corporations are beginning to jump on board one by one and refusing to do business with companies that manufacture guns or support their distribution. You can help drive more change by choosing who you do business with, where you invest your money and where you bank. Let the companies that are doing it right know you support them with your purchases, and for the ones who are getting it wrong, they will learn the hard way.
Finally, pick up your phone and text the word JOIN to 64433. Join us at Everytown for Gun Safety today. We will keep you informed about the issues facing your community as well as nationally. We cannot expect our leaders to change unless we are willing to do the heavy lifting. We know what to do, so let’s get to work. We are women – we can and will do this.

Share Button

‘Harvey’s Phallus’ Explores Weinstein Scandal

                Katie Beavan of Southport.

By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY

Have you ever been in a class where someone’s work is so great that yours pales by comparison every time?

Katie Beavan of Southport is that classmate. With her proper English accent and poetic mastery of the English language, Katie managed to churn out mini-masterpieces during our class “Journey of Women Through Writing” at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.

Our class was by no means a competition, but Katie brought a unique twist to our assignments written during a three-hour block every Tuesday morning. She clearly hails from the land of Chaucer and Shakespeare, creating pieces with rich texture and layers in a voice that is uniquely her own.

Given her talent to write eloquently on subjects ranging from anorexia to sexism in a 15-minute time frame, I can’t wait to see her one-woman play “Harvey’s Phallus, Where’s My Pussy Hat?” inspired by the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal. The play is at 7 p.m. May 11 at the Wien Experimental Theatre at the Quick Centre for the Arts at Fairfield University.

Auto/ethnographic performance is a both a method of critical qualitative inquiry and a stage performance. The scholar-performer uses her body as a cultural text to critically inquire, write, and present to audiences, hoping to invoke in turn, their personal, critical and embodied reflections.

Katie works as a feminist practitioner-scholar, using her experiences as a long-term executive and 21st century woman leading a multi-faceted 24/7 life as raw data. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of West of England. Her research focuses on how to (un)do gender in hyper-masculine cultures and accelerate the current slow pace of progress towards gender parity.

Her 2017 piece “Sleepless and Inchoate in Boston” explores the scenes and emotions of a senior executive woman in Boston for a dinner event and engaged in a heated e-mail dispute with her bosses. The play explores power at work, women at work, shame, anger, empathy, and agency.

Katie’s 2018 piece ‘Harvey’s Phallus, Where Is My Pussy Hat? is a performance of fragments. In this piece, she is engaging with powerful emotions and vulnerable and painful, personal memories of sexual harassment evoked by the unfolding Harvey Weinstein story. It also explores wider cultural issues of misogyny, power and control of women’s bodies, political agency and exploring the potential for women’s solidarity.
The play is free and open to the public. Oh and wear a pink pussy hat if you have one.

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is blog editor for CT-NOW.

 

Share Button

Choice Coalition Seeks Support

By Lauren Pizzoferrato

HB 5210 has gained importance and urgency. The current presidential administration continues to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, only in more administrative ways. Here is more information regarding a nationwide attempt by some states to combat this: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/03/08/591909106/a-health-plan-down-payment-is-one-way-states-try-retooling-individual-mandate.
A bill similar to HB5210 did not pass last year, and with this year’s shortened legislative session ending in just three weeks, we need to push for passage of this bill.
As a reminder HB5210 puts the insurance coverage the Affordable Care Act mandated into law in Connecticut, should the ACA be repealed on the Federal level.
This particular bill has the added benefits of requiring coverage of at least one type of all birth control methods and allowing patients to get 12 months of birth control pills at once.
This bill does not have a scheduled vote date yet but I will update you once there is one.
In the meantime, the Connecticut Coalition for Choice is looking for volunteers for this event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1537618586349322/
For those who don’t use Facebook, this Health Care Action Day is hosted by Protect Our Care CT. It is at Emanuel Lutheran Church, 311 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT. There will be a briefing at 2:30pm and then everyone will go across the street to the Legislative Office Building.
The coalition is looking for individuals willing to speak with legislators about the importance of HB 5210. If interested, you can get in touch with me at LAPizzoferrato@gmail.com and I will refer you to an organizer.

 

Lauren Pizzoferrato is CT NOW representative for the CT Coalition for Choice.

 

Share Button

Lazy Investigation Leads to Flawed Editorial

By Nichole Berklas

The editorial published April 12, 2018 in the Hartford Courant regarding the paid family leave bill currently being reviewed by the Connecticut legislature was patently false in its analysis.
The Editorial notes that while there are “humane reasons to support the paid family leave bill in the legislature” the overwhelming reason not to is that the “state is broke.” It then spends a number of paragraphs detailing how expensive the paid family leave bill will be for the State. This analysis fails to note one simple and important point: THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT WOULD NOT PAY FOR PAID FAMILY LEAVE.
The proposal includes a very small tax taken from each worker’s check, which is then put into a reserve to fund future paid leave requests. In fact, employees will not be able to access the funds for a year after the tax begins, so that the reserve accumulates to insure sufficient funds to cover not only the requested leaves but also the additional State workers required to administer the program. How do we know this simple fact? An actuarial analysis was commissioned by the legislature in 2015 that determined whether such a program would be sustainable (https://fmli.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/implementation-study.pdf). Moreover, we have actual real life proof in the long standing programs in both California and New Jersey.
Contrary to the conclusion made in the Editorial, paid family and medical leave is a clear solution to some of Connecticut’s fiscal struggles. With our neighboring states either now offering paid family and medical leave or on the eve of passing such a program, our lack of this clear and necessary program creates another reason for young people to take their educations and leave the State. No one should have to choose between their job and their family or health, and when our neighbors do not require young, mobile future leaders to make such a choice, Connecticut becomes the clear loser.
Moreover, as the Editorial itself notes, this is the “humane” decision. Unlike the alternative proposal discussed in the Editorial in which business owners would be given a tax credit for providing paid leave to their workers . . . the current option neither requires a payment on the part of the employers nor does it remove the tax revenue from that State. This really is a proposal that should easily garner support as it allows the State to do the right thing by giving workers an opportunity to address the reality of family and medical needs, while not asking either employers or the State to foot the bill.
It is one thing to disagree with the analysis that has been prepared, or even have concerns over the value of such a program, but it is just laziness on the part of the Editorial Staff to not investigate the actual proposal for paid family leave and the supporting analysis for the bill. I urge you to take two minutes and review the real facts on paid family and medical leave found on the Connecticut Campaign for Paid Family Leave website or Facebook page.
Nichole Berklas is CT NOW representative for Campaign for Paid Family Leave.

 

Share Button

Sandy Hook Victims Want Help

By Carolyn Milazzo Murphy

Sandy Hook School shooting survivor Mary Ann Jacob, left, with Bill Sherlach, whose wife Mary was killed in the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting.

You might expect Mary Ann Jacob to be discouraged about gun control.

Five years after surviving the Sandy Hook School shooting massacre by locking herself and 18 children in a storage closet, Jacob is dismayed by the number of school shootings, but believes history will show Sandy Hook was a major turning point in the gun control fight.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Jacobs said. “It’s going to take awhile, because we have to change a whole culture and its way of thinking. But I think when we look back in a generation, we’re going to see that Sandy Hook was the major turning point.”

Jacobs attended a screening of the acclaimed 2016 documentary Newtown Wednesday night at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport to highlight the importance of citizens, particularly women, in the gun control fight. The event was co-sponsored by the HHC journalism department and NOW’s Connecticut chapter.

I fixed my eyes on Jacobs, a library aide at Sandy Hook at the time of the shooting, as she fielded audience questions after the film. Dressed stylishly in a teal blouse, black sweater and slacks, and composed, she shows no outward signs of surviving the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.  

She has no medals to show her bravery, no purple heart to show the deep psychological wounds she suffered when 20-year-old Adam Lanza burst into the school on Dec. 14, 2014, killing 20 first-grade students and six staff members before killing himself.

But like her hometown, Jacobs was forever changed that day. She’s a survivor and a hero, shepherding 18 children to safety. And after walking around for months shell-shocked and just trying to get through the day, she and other Newtown survivors, relatives and friends emerged with a mission: tougher gun laws to prevent future tragedies.

Jacobs and other Newtown teachers and staff didn’t think they could return after the shooting, and hiring substitute teachers and aides was considered. But they decided if parents could put kids on the bus and kids could come to school, they could return too. And they did, setting up a makeshift school in the next town. Jacob said not much learning took place for about three months after the shooting, noting everyone just tried to get through each day.

She noted a rough winter blessedly led to many snow days, sparing the school from regimented weeks. Ordered, regular schedules were the last thing the kids or staff needed. They just needed to be together and heal as best they could.

“There wasn’t one week until about May where we had five days of school in a row, and that was such a relief because I don’t think we could have survived five consecutive days of school,” she said.

Though mounting gun violence makes us feel helpless and afraid, Jacob said we can and must do more. In the wake of the Parkland, FL., school shooting, three times as many calls supporting the NRA are coming into lawmakers as those supporting gun control. If you want to make a difference, Jacobs said, you’ve got to speak up and make your voice heard. You can’t expect others to do it for you.

“Don’t be a slacktivist, someone who doesn’t do anything,” she said. “This problem is not going to disappear. If there’s going to be change, it’s going to have to be a grassroots, bottom-up effort.”

It’s true. Connecticut chapter NOW president Cindy Wolfe Boynton was expecting a standing room only crowd given the timing of the screening. Just weeks after gun control rallies in Washington, D.C., and around the country mobilized the movement, Boynton expected to build momentum, particularly among women.

But about half the seats were empty, evidence of good intentions, but complacency. When I asked if a friend who had indicated she was attending was there, Boynton shook her head. “Not here,” she said. “Everyone always says they’re coming, but . . .”

Though Newtown is heartbreaking with its stories of lost children, shattered families and beautiful community crushed by a crazed gunman, you’re struck by the love and resilience of the community. Parents like Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley of the Sandy Hook Promise, who work tirelessly for tougher gun laws. Loved ones like Bill Sherlach, whose wife Mary, the school psychologist at Sandy Hook, was one of the victims.

Co-founder of the Sandy Hook Promise, Sherlach said he’ll never stop fighting for tougher gun laws because he owes it to his wife, who worked at the school for 18 years and loved the kids. Though progress is slow, he said he’s heartened by a Sandy Hook Promise program in schools that teaches children and teachers to look for signs of potential problems in students – alienation, isolation, poor communication and socializing skills – prevent potential disasters.

“We’ve got to look out for each other, and we’re teaching kids and teachers to notice signs,” he said. “I know of at least three shootings that were thwarted because of this program.”

All positive signs, but not nearly enough. I dreaded watching Newtown, but I’m glad I did because it’s motivated me to get more involved in the gun control movement. I’ve been as big a slacktivist as anyone else. It’s not only time to get involved, it’s long overdue.

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is blog editor.

 

Share Button