By Kim Bobo
It is easy to be discouraged about the state of the world and the problems in our commonwealth. Luckily, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP) can help you lift your voice for justice.
On Sunday, Sept. 24, I spoke in the adult forum at the Church of the Holy Comforter, an Episcopal church on Monument Avenue in Richmond. I shared the Center’s current priorities, which are:
Expanding healthcare access for low-income Virginians. Currently, the focus is on Congress, urging legislators to focus on improving the Affordable Care Act (ACA), instead of trying to repeal it without a plan to ensure coverage for millions of people. VICPP works closely with all the major denominations in its national advocacy. If the ACA remains the law of the land and there is openness in the General Assembly, VICPP will continue advocating Medicaid expansion in Virginia. If that is not possible, VICPP will look for other ways to expand healthcare access for people.
Promoting fair wages. VICPP is working with legislators to strengthen enforcement against wage theft by amending the Minimum Wage Act and Payment of Wages Act. In addition, VICPP is working with at least three Virginia communities, Richmond, Alexandria and Charlottesville, to create living wage certification programs.
Encouraging criminal justice reform. Virginia is one of the few states that has not passed significant criminal justice reform to reduce the numbers in prison, reduce costs and reduce crime. Virginia can do better by enacting evidence-based reforms. Last year, VICPP helped pass a bill to restore driver’s licenses to people who owe court fines and fees. VICPP is in conversation with community partners to figure out which criminal justice piece we should work on – possibly raising the felony threshold from $200 to $500.
Welcoming all. VICPP is helping Virginia become more welcoming to immigrants, Muslims and Jews and people of color. VICPP does this through helping people get to know one another, standing up against voices of hate, and advocating more welcoming policies in the General Assembly.
There are lots of ways you can help. You can:
- Join VICPP’s action alert list. Join the e-action alert list at www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org.
- Engage your congregation. Work with the church/synagogue/temple/mosque leadership team to engage members in letter-writing and meeting with legislators.
- Volunteer at the office. If you have time, VICPP could always use office volunteers.
- Support the annual awards celebration. VICPP will have its Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration on December 7. Plan to attend and donate to the Silent Auction. We’re also looking for Sponsors.
- Participate in the Day for All People Advocacy Day. VICPP hosts an annual advocacy day in the General Assembly. It will be January 23, 2018, at St. Paul’s downtown. Plan on attending.
- Witness at the Capitol. If you can donate a week of time, volunteer to be one of our “Witness at the Capitol” team members between mid-January and mid-March. This is a unique opportunity to be a part of the legislative process while representing people of faith.
Kim Bobo is the Executive Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.