In the News

West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition and its initiatives, impact, and team have been featured in a variety of national and local media, including:

Explore some of our media highlights below. All press inquiries may be directed to kasey@ourfuturewv.org.

2019

03/18/2019 - The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Kids in Crisis: Yoga program helping Wood County students focus

Through Mindful West Virginia, area schools are introducing yoga for students to deal with behavioral issues caused by trauma outside of school...The Mindful West Virginia program, through a grant from [WVHKFC's] Try This WV, is an attempt to connect mindfulness programs from across the state as well as train schools, businesses and individuals in mindfulness practices. Read more.

03/11/2019 - The Intelligencer, Wheeling News-Register

Wheeling Mayor Honors Residents During State of the City Speech

Mayor Glenn Elliott acknowledged Crow with the 2018 Gateway Award during the State of the City address Tuesday, when Elliott bestowed honors on several others for their contributions to the community... [including] Amy Jo Hutchison of [WVHKFC's] Our Children, Our Future. Read more.

02/19/2019 - The Parthenon

West Virginia educators strike to kill omnibus education bill

Instead of combining everything into one omnibus bill, lawmakers should work with educators and constituents to improve each issue individually, Jenny Anderson, director of [WVHKFC's] Families Leading Change, a statewide coalition to help improve public education, said Monday during a public meeting regarding SB 451 at Marshall University’s Memorial Student Center. “This bill was truly created to divide us,” Anderson said. “It was definitely retaliation from last year and a clear diversion from working to fix PEIA.”

Anderson said she supports the teachers striking because she feels they have no other choice. “The senate put public education in danger, and the teachers and service personnel have no other way to take a stand at this point,” she said. “We need an extreme showing of solidarity.” Read more.

01/31/2019 - Charleston Gazette-Mail

WV Senate education overhaul bill hits floor, higher class sizes out

The fourth Committee of the Whole in the state Senate’s history — a “committee” that really contains every senator — abruptly passed Senate Republicans’ expansive education overhaul bill to the full Senate floor Thursday morning. Thursday evening, more than 200 people rallied in the state Capitol in front of the Senate doors in opposition to the legislation.

Jenny Anderson, director of [WVHKC's] Families Leading Change and emcee of Thursday’s rally, said the Our Students First movement was created to oppose the bill but will continue on past the bill to improve public education statewide. Read more.

01/22/2019 - WV Metro News

After a day of debate, W.Va. foster care bill keeps moving in House

After a passionate public hearing and then another two hours of committee debate, a bill that would revamp West Virginia’s foster care system cleared yet another hurdle... Most speakers at the hearing opposed the bill — or at least said it should be slowed down for more vigorous discussion. Several speakers asked for a fiscal note to outline financial considerations.

“I ask you to slow down, I ask you to be very deliberate in this,” said Kristen O’Sullivan of [WVHKFC's] Our Children, Our Future. Read more.

01/15/2019 - Charleston Gazette-Mail

Federal workers struggle during partial government shutdown

About 30 demonstrators gathered outside of Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s office Tuesday in response to the partial government shutdown... The event was cosponsored by Rise Up West Virginia, [WVHKFC's] Our Children Our Future, WV Citizen Action Group and the WV Working Families Party... It’s not only federal workers who are feeling the strain. Those who are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, are affected as well... “We’ve gone door-to-door and heard from people who rely on temporary food assistance, and they are afraid that they may have no money for food once SNAP runs out,” [event organizer Savanna Lyons] said. Read more.

 

01/06/2019 - The Exponent Telegram

Mateen 'Tuna' Abdul-Aziz has made his Clarksburg, WV, community revitalization a continued priority

Abdul-Aziz has been working hard to revitalize his Monticello Avenue community for the past six years. “Honestly I don’t have time to do community service, but I make time,” he said. Most recently, the Clarksburg native has been involved as the founder and project coordinator of M.O.R.E, the Monticello Ongoing Revitalization Effort, or M.O.R.E., involved in the creation of affordable housing, the creation of the sustainable Monticello Avenue Community Garden and other efforts around his community to make it a better place...

“We started this garden project with zero dollars trying to beautify the neighborhood...One thing led to another and we got together with [WVHKFC's] Try This WV and ended up getting a $1,500 grant that was split between another community garden in Broadway.” Read more.

03/04/2019 - Charleston Gazette-Mail

WV college students rally against guns-on-campus bill

About 50 students went through the Capitol’s metal detectors Monday morning to join the demonstration against House Bill 2519... Haley Fields, president of Concord’s student body... said she, [Concord University junior Matthew] Thomas and Fairmont State sophomore Zac Fancher mostly organized the protest. Thomas said the groups [WVHKFC's] Our Children, Our Future; Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; and the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus helped. Read more.

03/01/2019 - West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Proponent, Opponent Discuss Proposed Privatization of State Foster Care System

A bill to modify West Virginia’s foster care system – House Bill 2010 – would transition the system to a managed care model. The issue has sparked debate at the statehouse and the state. On last night’s episode of “The Legislature Today,” Health Reporter Kara Lofton brought both sides of the issue together to have a discussion about the bill and ways to meet in the middle. Lofton spoke with Amy Kennedy Rickman, of West Virginia Necco, and Kristen O'Sullivan, of [WVHKFC's] Our Children Our Future. Read more.

02/03/2019 - Charleston Gazette-Mail

Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation announces new grants

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation Board of Trustees has approved the distribution of 26 grants totaling $887,047... [including a grant to] West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, Inc. – 'Try This! Empowering communities to take back their health!'.. In its fourth year of TGKVF funding, Try This! will support 63 community-led projects in Boone, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Lincoln and Putnam counties. Read more.

01/30/2019 - U.S. News & World Report

West Virginia Senators Get Schooled on Education Bill

West Virginia senators were schooled about comprehensive legislation opposed by teachers to revamp the education system Wednesday while a state board urged them to consider its components as separate bills...Among the issues the [state Board of Education] urged lawmakers to reject were charter schools, education savings accounts and a provision to withhold pay if teachers go on strike and schools are closed...A [WVHKFC] coalition group called Families Leading Change is scheduled to hold a rally against the bill Thursday evening at the Capitol. Read more.

 

01/17/2019 - Charleston Gazette-Mail

Bill would transition state's foster care to managed care

A bill introduced in the state House of Delegates on Thursday would put West Virginia’s approximately 7,000 foster children into a managed care organization... Child welfare advocates and others expressed concern over transition to a private managed care organization model for foster care. “Our concern is what does it mean for the system to be privatized and how are services going to be ... shortchanged when this is put into place?” said Jennifer Wells, director of the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. Read more.

01/09/2019 - The Register-Herald

[WV Governor] Justice dreams big on state budget

Between 2016 and 2017, poverty declined in 20 states, but rose in West Virginia from 17.9 to 19.1 percent. "They have issues finding affordable housing," said Jennifer Wells, director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. "Rural life means transportation is very difficult. People are having a very difficult time paying their utilities in the wintertime. We know every year, electric bills, gas bills, heating bills go up and people are forced to make a choice between heating their houses and purchasing medication, purchasing food or finding a way to get food to feed themselves to feed their children, their parent they may be taking care of... The picture that the governor typically paints in my opinion is of the experience and environment he exists in, and the majority of our legislators exist in, not the real West Virginians on the ground." Read more.

01/04/2019 - Weelunk

Social Activism Alive and Well in Wheeling

Local movers and shakers Rosemary Ketchum, Jenny Smith and family, Michelle Poole and family, and Jenny Craig were honored as local heroes by the West Virginia Healthy Kids & Families Coalition (WVHKFC). In addition to these families and individuals, West Virginia teachers and service personnel were awarded the Coalition’s West Virginian of the Year award. Organizers of the awards event say that this year’s choice for West Virginian of the Year was an easy one. “The teachers and school service personnel truly showed us what democracy looks like,” said WVHKFC Director Jennifer Wells. “They fought for their livelihoods, for our kids, for our schools – they sparked a worldwide movement with their courage.” Read more.

2018

12/17/2018 - The Record Delta

From rookies to policy pushers: Our Children Our Future kicks off 2019 Legislative Platform

Our Children Our Future hosted a rookie training camp at its annual meeting held in Buckhannon last week to begin finalizing its platform for the 2019 Legislative Session. Jennifer Wells, executive director of West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, said that Our Children Our Future is the advocacy arm of her organization... “For the past several months, community members we have been organizing with and organizing alongside have decided on issues they want to push or introduce at the legislation session in 2019. Today is a day for them to build their team even stronger, hone their pitch, pitch their issues to the larger group and we are going to formulate and devise our platform under three pillars this year.” Read more.

12/08/2018 - The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Sisters Health Foundation holds luncheon to honor community groups

A total of 63 organizations, programs and agencies [including West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition] were recognized Friday by the Sisters Health Foundation for their work this past year to complete projects and programs for which they received funding from the SHF. “A lot has changed in our external environment over the last year with the addiction crisis and changes to health care access in the foster care system, to name a few,” [Renee Steffen, executive director of the SHF] said. “Every organization in this room has in some way stepped up to the challenge to respond to these evolving times in their respective areas of health.” Read more.

 

11/15/2018 - WV MetroNews

Anti-poverty group recognizes teachers, service personnel as West Virginians of the year

The West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition presented the honor at its annual awards ceremony Thursday in Charleston... [WVHKFC] director Jennifer Wells said the teachers’ strike and the coalition share similar themes.“Workers’ rights, human rights and dignity of a living wage and benefits,” she said. “The teachers absolutely took on and with such power and built it organically and spontaneously, that we can’t do nothing but celebrate the effort that is basically turning the narrative on what workers’ rights really means and who should be fighting for it.” Read more.

10/08/2018 - The Herald-Dispatch

Anti-poverty organization hires Huntington woman as its director

After a six-month search, the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition announced it has hired Jennifer Wells as its next director. Wells, of Huntington, will start her new role on Oct. 22, with outgoing Director Stephen Smith staying on for six weeks to help with the transition."We could not be more excited," said Board President Michael Tierney in a news release. "Jennifer is a first-rate organizer and leader, and we can't wait to see what she and our staff do next." Read more.

08/28/2018 - The Herald-Dispatch

MU lays out Young WV Conference plan

Sponsored by [WVHKFC's] Our Children, Our Future, this is the third year the conference will take place at Marshall. It is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 14, through Sunday, Sept. 16, according to Jennifer Wells, organizer of the event. Young West Virginia aims to encourage students ages 15 to 25 to join a statewide movement of young people committed to making change within their communities in West Virginia, according to Wells. "Attendees at our conference will get to experience youth-led sessions on college readiness, voter engagement, racial injustice, mental health, advocacy and more," she said.

Kayla Hinkley, director of [WVHKFC's] Try This WV, Young WV leader and workshop presenter, was asked who should be at this conference. "Every young leader in West Virginia," she said. "Folks who support West Virginia young leaders, anyone that wants to make change and a difference in West Virginia's future." Read more.

06/25/2018 - The Nation

The Poor People’s Campaign Is Just Getting Started: Meet three leaders—an 83-year-old labor activist, a mom from Appalachia, and a homeless community organizer—who are trying to flip the dominant narrative of poverty in America.

A single mother of two girls, ages 14 and 11, [Amy Hutchison] has a bachelor’s degree and previously worked as a Head Start teacher. She is now an organizer for [WVHKFC's] Our Children, Our Future, which is spearheading a campaign to end child poverty in a state where about 30 percent of children under age 6 live below the federal poverty line. Hutchison does some lobbying and policy work at the state level, but said her “passion is organizing low-income moms.”

“They have it in them,” Hutchinson said. “Sometimes people just need someone to say, ‘Hey, I believe in you. Let’s do this together.’” Her work organizing directly impacted people to protect the safety net was a natural fit with the Poor People’s Campaign, which is focused on breaking through historical racial divides that have kept white people in poverty from working with people of color in poverty. “Politicians have set it up to keep us pitted against one another—from Jim Crow on,” said Hutchison. “To change that you have to have boots on the ground—have conversations and establish relationships so you can begin to say, ‘Look, we’re all in the same boat.’” These conversations include Trump voters, who she says believed him during the presidential campaign when he said he was bringing coal back. “Since I’m directly impacted I can go in there and say, ‘I know what this is like, and we’re being hoodwinked,’” said Hutchison. Read more.

 

06/13/2018 - Democracy Now!

Special Report: In the Streets with the New Poor People’s Campaign Against Racism and Poverty

Demonstrators descended on Washington Monday in the latest protest staged by the new Poor People’s Campaign, which organizers say is the most expansive wave of nonviolent direct action in the U.S. this century. [Demonstrator and WVHKFC organizer] Amy Jo Hutchison: "My children—I have two daughters in West Virginia. My daughters have a greater chance of dying of a drug overdose than they do from graduating from high school... It is a shame. So, my mom was widowed in the '70s. And if there was one song in my childhood that kept playing all the time, it was “Get an education, Amy Jo. Get an education, because you shouldn't have to work this hard.” I want everyone here to think for a minute about the poor West Virginia students who were at these colleges, who have seen a tuition increase over the past 15 years from 120 to 140 percent for in-state tuition. I want you to take just a minute to think about the West Virginia students who have to visit the food pantries on campus, and that there is a reason for there to be food pantries on college campuses in West Virginia." Read more.

 

05/05/2018 - Charleston Gazette-Mail

Gazette editorial: Praise for West Virginia social workers

Congratulations, to Jennifer Wells, named by her colleagues this week as West Virginia’s Social Worker of the Year. Wells came to West Virginia displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Debra Hunt Young, vice president of the West Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said during the group’s annual conference in Charleston on Thursday. “She has built a system of support around herself and also is a support to others,” Young said. “She both embodies the spirt of social work and what West Virginia is all about,” Young said in presenting the award. Read more.

04/10/2018 - Associated Press

Poor People’s Campaign to begin 40 days of action next month

As organizers rekindle an economic justice effort the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was planning when he was killed, they are looking at people like Amy Jo Hutchison to lead the way. Hutchison, 46, is the single mother of two daughters, ages 14 and 11. She’s on Medicaid, and her daughters are enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides low-cost coverage. She has a full-time job and a bachelor’s degree. And she’s white. “People perceive me as solidly middle class,” said Hutchinson, who lives in Wheeling and is one of the campaign’s leaders in West Virginia. But she describes herself as living on the “high end of poverty.”

“There’s never a month when two flat tires wouldn’t cripple me,” she said in a phone interview Monday... It’s also important that those who live in poverty are working directly with the campaign to improve their lives, said Hutchison, an organizer with an anti-poverty group called Our Children, Our Future. “We’re not generally given the space to come together and take a stand,” she said. “We’re constantly fighting for our dignity.” Read more.

 

03/05/2018 - The Montgomery Herald

SALS students attend Families Leading Change Day

Students in the Southern Appalachian Labor School's Accent Education after-school program at the SALS Community Center in Beards Fork attended the West Virginia Legislature on Monday, Feb. 26. That was the day officially proclaimed by Gov. Jim Justice and the legislature as Families Leading Change Day. Co-sponsored by [WVHKFC's] Our Children Our Future campaign, the students participated in an educational day of celebrating parent and family leadership for advocacy in schools. Activities included hands-on STEM activities, exhibits and demos, music, art performances, kids cooking and physical activities. That was followed by advocacy activities as the students spoke with their state legislators about issues of concern. Read more.

 

02/06/2018 - The Herald-Dispatch

Barboursville Middle School students receive statewide 'Unstoppable Award'

Jillian Freeman and Olivia Turman, students at Barboursville Middle School, received the WV Healthy Kids Healthy Families "Unstoppable Award" for their advocacy work on education policy in December...The students were commended by the WV BOE on their courage and bravery to speak in public on how important it is for all West Virginia students to have the opportunity to eat healthy foods, including during school parties and school-sponsored sporting events by offering healthy concessions.

Turman and Freeman received a [WVHKFC's] Try This WV mini grant in 2016 to build a healthy concessions cart, which features a people-powered smoothie bike and small physical activity equipment...They recently received a [WVHKFC's] Families Leading Change mini grant to expand on their cart and offer mobile healthy cooking classes to after-school programs. Read more.

 

02/05/2018 - The Intercept

At Republican retreat, protest power was on display as progressives eye midterm elections

Activists are optimistic that their protest power will translate to political power in the midterm elections, even in a state like West Virginia...“I’ve never thought West Virginia is a conservative state or a red state,” said Sammi Brown, federal campaign director for the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. “It’s really easy to believe that right now, but what it was was a rejection of the power paradigm. What we are is very populist. Yes, in the general [election], we went for Trump, but in the primary, we overwhelmingly went for Bernie.” Read more.

01/31/2018 - Huffington Post

Hundreds To Protest Potential Safety Net Cuts At GOP Retreat: Activists want to put a human face on public assistance.

Hundreds of activists plan to converge on congressional Republicans’ winter retreat in West Virginia to protest potential cuts to the social safety net, including a recent Trump administration policy allowing states to enact Medicaid work requirements. The protest march, which will culminate at The Greenbrier, a hotel in White Sulphur Springs, is due to include a sizable contingent of people from West Virginia who depend on means-tested assistance programs like Medicaid, food stamps and cash welfare... West Virginia activists like Sammi Brown, federal campaign director for the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, are already fighting a state-level proposal to add work requirements to Medicaid. “We know that if you did not have to [seek help], you wouldn’t,” Brown said. “We don’t want to add to that feeling of distress when you are trying to make ends meet.” Read more.

12/11/2018 - The Register-Herald

Upson: no plans to step down from minority affairs office

New executive director of the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs Jill Upson said Tuesday she has no plans to step down after a coalition of about 30 members of progressive and racial justice groups held a press conference Tuesday calling for her removal or resignation...“Is this going to be the end of this office?” said Jennifer Wells, executive director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition.“She should have to prove why she deserves it,” she added. “She’s working for us.” Read more.

11/25/2018 - The Herald-Dispatch

Ten years later, Huntington drops the 'fattest city' title

Out in the public at large, living in the fattest city in the fattest state, and hearing it over and over, became an embarrassment that individuals began to take to heart, understanding the problem would not be solved with apathy. Those individuals gradually snowballed into local organizations scattered across the state...

In 2013, many of these groups coalesced under [WVHKFC's] Try This West Virginia, a coalition of organizations pooling and providing resources to tackle the state's health challenges in small local but meaningful ways. Try This West Virginia funds projects across the state through mini-grants and provided 95 of them between 2014 and 2015 - including 44 for improving physical activity spaces and 27 for creating better access to healthy foods. Grant funding allows individuals to come up with their own ways to serve their specific communities - including a bicycle-powered smoothie machine, a statewide yoga network and the even more localized Try This Huntington group.

"If we just go around telling people what to do and say, then we may get someone to skip a Coke at one meal," said Kayla Wright, Try This West Virginia director. "But if we give people the option to think creatively about what they would like to see in their communities and give them the resources to do it, then you're going to get much better and more sustainable results." Read more.

10/17/2018 - Charleston Gazette-Mail, Op-Ed

Jennifer Wells, Stephen Smith: What if? West Virginians don't have to fight alone

"When inequality becomes unbearable and corrupt politicians can see their power starting to slip, they try to silence the people in any way they can. They figure they can stop a revolution by keeping folks quiet."  - Jennifer Wells, WVHKFC Executive Director. Read more.

10/04/2018 - NPR: All Things Considered

Supreme Court Debate On Kavanaugh Is Playing Out In West Virginia Senate Race

As the FBI investigates sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, West Virginia voters discuss how the debate is shaping their view of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's re-election campaign. NPR's Sarah McCammon: Across the street from Senator Joe Manchin's Charleston campaign office, several dozen activists gathered in a park last night standing in a circle and lighting candles. [WVHKFC organizer and] local activist Carey Jo Grace... says she's tired – "A lot of it is – I'm exhausted because I sat in that office over there until almost 2 o'clock in the morning... asking Senator Manchin to get off the fence about Judge Kavanaugh." Read more.

08/28/2018 - Feminist Crush Podcast

Feminist Crush, S4, Ep. 2: Jennifer Wells

A transplant from New Orleans, Jennifer Wells is working to make her new home in West Virginia the best place to live and thrive for women and people of color. "I identify [as feminist]. I’ve never used the definition because it is just the life I live, in the sense that it’s the only life I’ve known. I am the product of a strong woman who is a product of a strong woman who is the product of a strong woman who is the product of another strong woman who was born in slavery and existed in slavery and survived. So, I have only sensed how women have kept us going. And so, in the barest of definitions, I’ve always known working, we’ve had to fight. Living, we’ve had to fight. Raising our family, we’ve had to fight. But if you bring the fight, in some cases, you will win. So that’s where my identification stands. My thought as a feminist is I don’t say it as much. I don’t talk it as much. I have to just do it. So whenever there’s the moment that I’m raising up my voice or my ability, or opening another door and stepping aside and letting another woman shine or grow in her power, then that’s what my butt better be doing.” Read more.

07/25/2018 - Kanawha Metro

Area public health authorities to take part in Opioid Town Hall meetings

An Opioid Town Hall meeting, “Moving Beyond Fear: Saving Lives and Protecting Neighbors During an Opioid Epidemic,” will be held this week in Charleston, with a second, similar event scheduled for this weekend in Huntington. Hosted by Cabin Creek Health, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, West Virginia Council of Churches, [WVHKFC's] Our Children Our Future, West Virginia Citizen Action Group, C.A.R.E. Coalition, ACLU of West Virginia and Rise Up WV... Thursday’s public event will provide a platform for a panel discussion with public health experts, for attendees to learn more about successful approaches that deal with the effects of opioid abuse in the community. Read more.

 

06/14/2018 - People's World

‘We won’t be silent anymore’: Poor People’s Campaign speaks to Congress

On Tuesday, June 12, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., convened a forum at the U.S. Capitol to examine poverty in America. Panelists included the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, and individuals who shared their personal stories about poverty and economic injustice... Amy Jo Hutchinson, a single mother, and an organizer with the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, noted, “We shouldn’t have to give so much of ourselves in order to have good quality of life.” Read more.

05/14/2018 - Public News Service

WV Rally Today to Reconnect with MLK’s Radical Vision

[WVHKFC organizer] Amy Jo Hutchison of Wheeling is one of three chairs of the West Virginia campaign. She said the movement includes people focused on everything from voter ID laws to dirty drinking water. But Hutchison said by stepping back, it's easy to see how the issues are related, here and nationwide - so, it makes sense to call for six weeks of nonviolent, direct protests. "One of the things that we're trying to do is to elevate the plight of the poor across the United States,” Hutchison said; “and calling for 40 days of moral action, for the people who are impacted by these issues, and to give them a space to elevate their voices." Read more.

 

04/14/2018 - The Guardian

We are proud to be 'rednecks'. It's time to reclaim that term

"Recent waves of protests and strikes in West Virginia invoke the memory of a now notorious figure in American history: the redneck... In 1921, black, white and immigrant mineworkers took up arms to battle the coal companies that controlled and exploited every aspect of their lives. United, they wore red bandannas to identify each other in battle. They called themselves the 'Redneck Army'... These hills were once home to one of the most powerful and diverse working-class movements in American history. That legacy lives on." – Stephen Smith, director of the WVHKFC. Read more.

04/01/2018 - WKMS, Murray State's NPR Station

‘Poor People’s Campaign’ Stops in West Virginia and Kentucky

One speaker was Amy Jo Hutchinson, of Wheeling, West Virginia, who helps organize [WVHKFC's] Our Children Our Future campaign in her state. She reflected on her support for what teachers accomplished during a recent work stoppage, but noted her own frustration that the same momentum is not behind the campaigns for poor, working class people in the state: “I watched my state and nation rally behind these teachers who are making more than the people I organize around with Our Children Our Future every day. We’re fighting for middle class people, because they want better health insurance. Why aren’t [middle class] guys fighting for us?” Read more.

 

02/20/2018 - The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Community plans food drive for students

Jeanne Peters is a volunteer helping coordinate a food drive for Wood County Schools students... Peters is on the steering committee for [WVHKFC's] Our Children, Our Future, a statewide organization that undertakes projects to help raise children out of poverty. Peters said according to Wood County Schools Food and Nutrition Department, of the district’s 12,456 students, 6,800 qualify for free or reduced price meals, or about 54 percent of the student population... “Only four of our schools (in Wood County) have 40 percent or less of their students qualifying for free and reduced meals,” Peters said. “Some have as high as 76 percent. I think this is an opportunity to not only help, but to recognize that hunger in our community is very real and often invisible. That’s a huge need crying out that we just can’t see.” Read more.

 

02/06/2018 - WV Public Broadcasting

W.Va. Congressmen Say Opioid Epidemic Highest Priority

“The folks that are trying to get clean, the folks that want rehabilitation, they are doing so through Medicaid dollars,” said Sammi Brown, federal campaigns director for Our Children, Our Future. “If we are cutting Medicaid, both statewide and federally, guess who loses out? So if you’re really after a pro-life agenda, if you are looking to really rehabilitate individuals, if you are saying you care about us then you need to make sure that that program in and of itself, just by itself, is preserved, taken care of and fully funded.” Read more.

 

02/01/2018 - The Parthenon

Protesters from around the country march on the Greenbrier

Protesters took to the streets of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia yesterday to march on the Greenbrier Resort, where GOP congressional members and President Donald Trump met to discuss the coming year’s agenda. “It’s not about a man, and it’s not about an administration,” Federal Campaigns Director for [WVHKFC's] Our Children Our Future Sammi Brown said. “It’s about many, and it’s about the agenda that seems to be constantly affecting them. Here in the state of West Virginia, we have a majority of our population on Medicaid. The folks that are looking for opioid relief, and that are looking for rehabilitation, guess how they’re paying for that? Medicaid.” Read more.

Archive

12/10/2017 - WOWK-13

CARE Action Network Holiday Party: Members of the CARE Action Network sent postcards to Congress about Budget

Jennifer Wells, the WV state chair for the CARE organization, speaks on West Virginians' kindness: "We lead the nation in neighborly actions, care, warmth, and – no less than our own local neighbor – we also think of our global neighbor." Taking care of our neighbor means more than simply donating cans or Christmas gifts, but ensuring services are there to support those in need. "We need to maintain that budget – we cannot have it cut ten to thirty percent, which is the proposals on the books right now from both the house and senate bills – and so we are asking our senate representation, please, please, please don't cut. Let's save lives." Read more.

08/26/2017 - WV Metro News

Working Families Party launches in West Virginia

Jennifer Wells [of WVHKFC] said the party should be a voice to those who feel rejected, referencing her experience living in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “When a natural disaster struck, I was one of those left out and was powerless,” she described. “That’s been a moment that’s defined my life and continues to define me... We have power, but sometimes we don’t know how much we have. We have a voice, but sometimes we’re not picked to use it. In every moment of my work and every support I can give to this party and to you as well, we will be empowering those very people. This will not be repeated in West Virginia.” Read more.

 

04/24/2017 - Public News Service

Social Worker, Katrina Survivor: “West Virginia Chose Me”

Social worker Jennifer Wells [of WVHKFC] says West Virginia chose her after Hurricane Katrina drove her out of her old home. And now her profession inspires her to make her new home a better place. Wells is one of four young women delivering the keynote at the National Association of Social Workers West Virginia spring conference this week in Charleston. The theme will be "West Virginia Chose Me.” Read more.

02/02/2015 - WV Public Broadcasting

Sabrina Shrader; The Face of Poverty Says "Never Give up"

“My whole life I feel like I’ve been setup to fail,” she said. “I have tried so many different things five or six different ways and then it still doesn’t work.” Shrader is now a leader of [WVHKFC's] Our Children Our Future Campaign, an organization working to “preserve families by providing the highest quality services that target behavioral health, cultural and other related needs..." Fighting poverty is an enormous undertaking. But Shrader says giving up, just isn’t an option. Read more.

09/12/2017 - The Record Delta

Hate Has No Home Here in West Virginia – West Virginia Grassroots Summit

There is a movement growing in West Virginia, a people-powered movement. On Sept. 29 and 30, Upshur County Indivisible-Votes will host the West Virginia Grassroots Summit at the Event Center at Brushy Fork in Buckhannon... This free two-day conference is the work of more than 29 organizations in West Virginia that came together to plan, fund and man the event. Partner organizations include [WVHKFC's] Our Vote Our Future... Guest speakers and invited presenters include... [WVHKFC's] Our Children Our Future Safety Net Campaign... [and] West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition... Read more.

 

08/26/2017 - Charleston Gazette-Mail

Progressive group launches as WV Democrats shape up campaigns

Carey Jo Grace, an organizer with [WVHKFC's] Our Children, Our Future, said she plans to run against state Sen. Ed Gaunch, R-Kanawha. “I think we need more people in the Senate who are going to stand up for women, stand up for working class families, stand up for LGBTQ, stand up for black lives, and that the conservative nature of our Legislature does not work for the regular, everyday working families of West Virginia,” she said. Read more.

 

 

02/07/2016 - Charleston Gazette-Mail

Looking at activism in West Virginia, past and present

“There are a lot of tremendous social change agents in West Virginia that have been doing great work for a long time, and their stories don't tend to get captured. We wanted to catch those stories.” said [WVHKFC board member] Michael Tierney, himself an activist for nearly 40 years with the regional nonprofit group Step By Step and many other efforts. Along with Luke Eric Lassiter, Tierney is co-teaching the graduate seminar “West Virginia Activists: Stories of Social Change,” through the Marshall University Graduate Humanities Program at Marshall's Graduate College/South Charleston Campus. Panelists to include: Stephen Smith, director of WVHKFC; Takeiya Smith, student chapter leader of WVHKFC's Our Children Our Future; and Kristen O'Sullivan. Read more.