Dear Friends – my name is Stephen Myers. I am a member of the Sacramento Friends Meeting and the clerk of the board of the Friends Committee on Legislation of California.
The present moment is an encouraging time to be your voice of conscience at the State Capitol. In recent weeks, State government has included, for the first time in more than 20 years, money in the annual budget to support children born into poverty. We are also beginning to see a shift toward more rehabilitation, rather than punishment, in the state prison system: FCLCA helped to pass laws that will allow people sentenced as minors to demonstrate positive changes in their attitude and behavior in order to earn parole.
Our work is needed now more than ever. FCLCA has three areas of concentration for our work: reform of the criminal justice system, promotion of economic equality, and environmental justice. Right now, we are advocating for a redefinition of the purpose of sentencing from its present intent of punishment to a more holistic definition that includes restorative justice. We believe this can open the door to a paradigm shift in which California’s justice system serves to heal rather than promote further harm.
Our coalition work to repeal the Maximum Family Grant, the state aid to children I mentioned before, brought together members of a wide range of faith communities. Many of these congregations were featured in a brief video which I would be delighted to share with you this week. Working together with a wide range of communities has been empowering and nourishing for FCLCA, and we couldn’t do that work without your support!
We also are uniquely suited to address issues at the intersections between our priorities: our current work to increase the level of investment towards greenhouse gas reductions in low-income communities would benefit working families at the same time it would promote environmental justice.
Our impact is determined in large part by the support of the members of this meeting – YOU allow FCLCA to make a difference at the state capitol. The good folks in the Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Cruz, and other meetings who are working on the 50th Annual Harvest Festival, as well as other meeting fundraisers, allow FCLCA to be present each day in Sacramento to build relationships and keep our eyes and ears open to any developments in the capitol building. Thank you for your support!
FCLCA’s Action Network has reached 5,200 subscribers! This allows FCLCA to multiply our impact by enabling you and your social networks to send messages directly to state legislators. Legislative staff tell us that our direct advocacy makes a huge difference – we have ensured good bills have made it through committees and stopped bad bills before they became law. The action network is an excellent way for every member of the meeting to stay informed about FCLCA’s work and to be part of the movement to promote Friends’ values at the state level. I strongly urge you to sign up online at www.fclca.org.
And, as always, we remain a source for in-depth analysis of state-wide Initiatives, allowing voters to understand ballot measures from a carefully reasoned Friends’ perspective before going to the polls in November. Our recommendations will be available in the next issue of the Newsletter online and in print for our supporters.
The other half of FCLCA, the Education Fund, has also been hard at work: last year we created the Bring Your Voice Guidebook to Lobbying the California State Legislature that will be available soon. We are developing a citizen-lobbyist training program to train other like-minded folks across the state!
While all this good news is inspiring, it is also important for me to express my uncertainty about the future of FCLCA. We’re struggling to close a $100,000 annual shortfall for our lobbying organization. As the Quaker community has aged, more of our income has come from end-of-life bequests rather than steady monthly and annual contributions. That is why I am directly asking members of this meeting to ask yourself how you as an individual and your Friends Meeting as a community can help FCLCA bridge the significant gap that presently exists. We need a significant number of new individuals to contribute $1,000 or more annually. If you are able to give at this level, FCLCA needs you to do so. If you can connect the organization to those either in your meeting or in your larger circle that can contribute financially, please share those contacts with me. Remember that with our monthly sustainer system, a significant annual contribution can be divided into manageable monthly amounts. To encourage your participation in our summer initiative, a generous donor has enabled increased or new donations to FCLCA to be matched dollar for dollar up to $11,000!
Again, I want to thank those individuals and meetings that contribute time, love, and resources to the Friends Committee on Legislation of California. We cannot continue to be your voice of conscience without your passion and commitment to Friends’ values. I am extremely appreciative for the opportunity to serve you as the clerk of the board, and am available at any time to talk with you about supporting the work of FCLCA – whether that be through writing a letter to your legislator, organizing a fundraiser at your meeting, or stretching financially to make an individual contribution. Every effort is appreciated!