Cleveland hosts National Truth Commission

(Plain Press, August 2006) Cleveland hosted the first ever National Truth Commission in the United States  on July 15- July 17th. Over 500 people from 25 different states gathered in Tremont’s Lincoln Park on the first day of the National Truth Commission and Leadership School designed to shine light on the often-hidden suffering of millions of Americans living in poverty and to empower people to take new ideas for change back to their home communities.  

The Northeast Ohio Poor Peoples Economic and Human Rights Campaign and its member organizations worked hard for six months to organize the three-day gathering and prepare to host the large number of out-of-town guests. A core group of volunteers, many from the Near West Side and Tremont, did much of the legwork to make the gathering a success, says Larry Bresler, spokesperson for the Northeast Ohio Poor Peoples Economic and Human Rights Campaign.

Near West Side organizations were well represented at the gathering. St. Agustine Church provided meals for participants and day care services for the children.

On Saturday, human rights experts from various parts of the United States, Central America, South America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia listened to hours of testimony on violations of economic human rights experienced by poor people in the United States. Local members of the Truth Commisssion were Reverend Andrew Clark,  Most Reverend Bishop RogerW. Gries, and Rev. Mylian Wade, the Director of the Cleveland Office of the Children’s Defense Fund. Among those testifying from Cleveland were Amy Bolt of We are the Uninsured and Shamyra Ladydove of United Clevelanders Against Poverty.

On Sunday, poets, musicians and various artists used their talents to raise awareness of poverty in America. Evening movies offered some lessons for organizers and a chance for discussion.

Monday, the final day of the national gathering, featured a march by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign to both the Democratic and Republican headquarters in downtown Cleveland to demand the human right to health care in the United States.

“We are the Uninsured” promotes equal access to quality health insurance

A group of uninsured patients at Neighborhood Family Practice on the near west side of Cleveland to form “We are the Uninsured”, a group committed to increasing access to affordable health coverage.

This is especially important given the upcoming Ohio Senate and House of Representatives election this fall.  The number of uninsured people in our Cleveland community as well as throughout the state of Ohio is growing. The group also strives to correct public misperceptions of the uninsured as lazy or uncaring and to put a face on the uninsured by bringing the problems created for uninsured patients to the attention of legislators

 Currently there are 2 million people in Ohio without health coverage. This is despite the fact that 4 out of 5 uninsured Americans belong to a family in which at least one adult is working (Families USA, June 2004).

The group is sending messages to current legislators and candidates urging them to place the issue of access to quality, affordable healthcare for all on their agenda.  A legislative event is also in the works for early September. Legislators and candidates will come to listen to concerns of uninsured people and view the photo exhibit that shows what life is like without health coverage that “We are the Uninsured” is putting together.  

The group is also collecting stories of the experiences of uninsured people.  Legislators need to know that those they represent include hardworking, motivated people who happen to be uninsured.  The purpose of this group is to get community members together and let the voice of the uninsured be heard loud and clear.  There is strength in numbers, especially when every vote is counted.  The group is open to uninsured people, those with poor quality insurance and those concerned about quality health care for their fellow community members.  

Not having health insurance affects everyone in the community.  Healthy people make a healthy community where everyone can contribute their best.  People with quality health insurance are healthier because they have the freedom to see their doctor for wellness checkups and other services that can prevent sickness or keep sickness or disease from becoming worse.  This means children miss less school days and adults miss less work days.  Every human being has the right to quality, affordable health care.  

Meetings with a dinner are held on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 6pm at Neighborhood Family Practice 3569 Ridge Rd., next to Dave’s Supermarket.  Please join us to share your experiences, ideas and talents.  Come put a face on the uninsured!   Please contact Johanna Cook at (216) 281-8945 x250 or and let us know you are coming.  You may also direct any questions or comments to Johanna.


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