July 30, 2015

Austin Reports a Terrific Medicare Event

This comes in from Glenn Scott, President of the Austin Chapter of Texas Alliance for Retired Americans:

Hello all!
We had a terrific event on Saturday. We have put Austin TARA on the Austin/Central Texas political and advocacy map!
Over 147 people attended the event which means we met our goal of 150! In part due to Congressman Doggett’s great reputation, we brought in many new faces. We went well beyond the TARA contact list for this event.
We built stronger ties with labor groups through this event. At least 8 unions or CLC and Building trades council contributed $. One key to turnout was our list of over 30 endorsing organizations. Most of the endorsing organizations sent at least 1 or 2 and some brought as many as 8 to 10. Austin DSA got 10 members there and TSEU brought the most with at least 12 or more. Congressman Doggett’s staff was another factor, – they did a letter to constituents and sent emails and did press for us in addition to our own efforts.
We also had an info fair with AGE of Austin ( adult day care centers and care giver organization), Dept of Insurance info on Medicare, and M Supplement and Latino Health care forum brought 6 promotoras (thanks to Teresa) to do info and referral on health care coverage in Spanish and English. Two unions had tables and TARA had a table.
The other draw was our music. Three bands agreed to perform for free. Plus we had Thom World Poet ( Thanks to Yolanda) who was outstanding as a wrap up.
We had 3 groups bring cake. So it was a group effort.
We have forged some new ties with the Senior centers in Austin, with the AGE Services of Austin folks, with the local NAACP and with Latino Health care forum and T Dept of Insurance seniors health insurance education program. We also strengthened our tie with Children’s Defense fund who is very interested in ongoing work on Medicaid together.
In the political arena, we are on the map of every candidate running for office in Travis County! We had a least 10 candidates working the crowd and we had 4 elected officials there as well.
We had a great Austin TARA crew working on this event. The team Sat. was Robyn Hembree, Marie Drummond, Danny Fetonte ( and Danny’s wife Barbara), Cleaburn, Maura Powers and Mark Cebulski. Maura, Robyn did amazing work on sign in and registration. everyone else helped at the table or with clean up and set up. Maria Jimenez and Alicia del Rio ( not a member yet, still working but retired CWA ) helped with food and cake. Of course Teresa was everywhere emceeing and coordinating all the food. We also had 3 young women, a TSEU organizer and 2 interns help with the medicaid petition and a petition to support our proclamation. Jack McCabe from Tony’s union came to help with sound and then played guitar with the poet! It was great.
We owe Daniel Llanes, one of the musicians, a big thanks. He brought his mixer, helped the other bands set up after him and stayed the entire program. We need to give him an award!
Last, we had applications out and encouraged people to join us or make a monthly pledge. We actually got some interest in making a donation and could have collected money if we had receipts and change (we will remember next time). Still, we did sign up one new CAN member. and have many more registrants to follow up with. I’ve had two other people who were there call me yesterday or today and ask about how to get active with TARA!
On media, we got good media coverage on 2 or 3 TV stations but skunked by the Statesmen. We also got an interview on Channel 10 community TV and a host there will air parts of the event on her next 2 or 3 shows.
Congressman Doggett was very pleased. Union leaders and activists were impressed. All in all a great day.
Teresa is on a well deserved vacation for 2 weeks but will get us an accounting of expenses when she returns.
Our planning committee, Alice and Danny especially stressed that we should look at this event not just as a one shot deal but as a way to start building a broader coalition on healthcare. We made a huge step forward on that. A majority of the audience expressed support for such a coalition. Now we have to do the follow up to make that happen.
Yes, it was a lot of work and we need to figure out how to not  let too much fall on one of us.
We plan to evaluate the event at our August 20 member meeting. There are certainly some things we can do better. But overall it was a huge success.
Team effort all the way!
–Glenn Scott

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Let’s re-commit ourselves to preserving and expanding Medicare!


Gene Lantz

President, Texas Alliance for Retired Americans
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labordallas@sbcglobal.net Donate to Texas Alliance for Retired Americans by clicking here. Contact Texas organizer Judy Bryant at 214-729-0063
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