Jennifer Roberts has volunteered with WROC and POWER for a long time. She loves the work of POWER. She knows that poverty is not a choice, it happens to you. She has gained an incredible amount of knowledge since she started volunteering. She wants to continue to help in the fight to eradicate poverty. She also helped with the founding of POWER. Some of her skills include fundraising, outreach, legislative education, and databasing.
Cat Sullivan by POWERDOWN
Cat Sullivan has been a low-income worker for over 30 years. She has also been a welfare recipient. As an older woman who straddled the advent of more women in the workforce from a time when many women stayed home and raised their children, Cat knew of those two worlds, their differences and what was good and bad about both. She can testify from personal experience as a low-income worker, as a parent, and welfare recipient because whe has lived it as well as being an organizer and an activist.
For over 18 year Cat has known and worked with the community of organizers who have worked to eradicate poverty. She successfully fought for and got an education through the WorkFirst Program and is passionately supportive of allowing all low income women (and men) to obtain a higher education or skill according to their abilities and desires and to eradicate the rampant racism and sexism that prevents such education that she has witnessed with her own eyes.
Cat is also a passionate support for raising our society's consciousness around the sexist and racist attitudes in our society, especially for the lack of support for raising children. She tries to live her life as well as speak to changing things so that no matter who you are and your circumstances, parenting and care giving is considered work that contributes to and is worthy of our community's and government's support. She has worked for years on raising the conscience of legislators, policy makers, citizens, and other organizers to promote these things by writing and speaking to them.
Cat lives in the Seattle area and has server on the following organizations as board member. Keystone Congregational Church Board Member, Welfare Rights Organizing Coalitions, Headstart Parent Board. Cat want to serve on POWER's board beacuse she is a passionate supporter and believer in the people and policies around POWER's mission and work, which coincide with her own work. It means more to her than any other work she has done except perhaps parenting her kids. This is why POWER is so important and a strong voice to peak for those who have few to speak for them.
Angie Kelly speaking about the impact of 2011 budget cuts by POWERDOWN
Angie Kelly is a single mother of 1 college student, and 2 preschoolers. She has lived in Olympia since 2001 and has used the advocacy and support of WROC/POWER many times over the years. After participating in the Work First, Community Jobs program as an office intern at POWER, Angie joined the POWER Board of Directors in 2011. Angie believes that POWER’s role in WA and beyond, as a strong voice for the rights of parents and families is correct and just. In fact, Angie finds many of the values around parenting and access to resources upheld within POWER’s membership to be one of POWER’s greatest strengths, and a source of a growing, shared empowerment and truth.
Angie is driven by social justice and anti-oppression work and is proud to serve on POWER’s Board to further the anti-poverty, pro parenting mission of POWER.
Shelly Robbins by POWERDOWN
Shelly Robbins is a former AFDC recipient. Shelly earned her B.A. as a participant in WA State's Family Independence Program, a program that encouraged self-determination and education for AFDC recipients. After graduating from college Shelly was hired by Solo Parenting Alliance to develop a program to create Mutual Support Groups for single, custodial parents. She created 8 groups in the Greater Seattle Area that supported 200 parents.
Shelly went on to create her own company, The QuickSource Inc, which employed 8 people in a flexible working environment that allowed parents to schedule their work around school breaks so her employees could be more available to their children. Shelly continues to work in her company part-time, and volunteers at POWER to affect legislation that impacts single custodial parents with limited incomes.
Mikey Moren has been involved in grassroots social movements for many years. From the time he was quite young, his mother instilled in him a strong sense of social justice. He has experience working in both legislative and direct action campaigns and holds a BA/BS degree from The Evergreen State College in grassroots social movements. He is passionate about organizing with low-income people to work in solidarity for a just and poverty-free world.
Mikey believes that the work that POWER is doing is crucial and vital to so many people and really to the heart of our community. He has been involved with POWER in different capacities and is excited about continuing as a Board member. He was born to parents who grew up in poverty and he has seen firsthand the cruel hand of poverty in our community. He has seen the problems caused by the dismantling of the social safety net and strongly believes that, as a community, we need to band together and demand the restoration of our social safety net. He lives with his partner and her two children, Kaia and Liam, who are a daily inspiration, and he believes we need to work hard so that they, and all other kids, are never in
Mikey is an avid cyclist and you can often find his bright yellow bicycle snuggling in the back of the POWER office. He plays a lot of old-time music, mostly the fiddle and banjo, although he has been known to pick up almost anything with strings! He handles a lot of the technical / computer needs for the POWER office and works for a small business that makes software for labor unions.
POWER/WROC volunteer for six years, and a volunteer with the Coalition for Low-Income Power (CLIP) for two years. Bryn has served on POWER’s interim board. She’s collaborated with board members and volunteers on a wide range of organizational development activities, including fundraising, organizational development, and creating the mission, vision, bylaws, and goals.
Bryn loves POWER, and subscribes completely to its mission, vision, structure and work. Although she doesn’t have children herself, she is surrounded by great parents and youth, who have taught her a lot about importance of supporting and respecting the rights and struggles of parents and youth. Her Grandma Ida was a single low-income parent, and she and Bryn’s mother instilled in her a great respect and admiration for the immense work of mothering, especially of being a poor mom. They also gave Bryn a good understanding of a wide range of issues, including class issues. Bryn’s family and friends have taught her, through word and deed, the importance of activism, and that it’s crucial (and fun!) to collaborate with people on social change, including the eradication of poverty.
In the early 1990’s, Bryn worked with the Belize Rural Women’s Association to design and implement an oral history project that focused on the experiences of low-income women in northern Belize. Out of this two-year experience, a book called Rising Up: Life Stories of Belizean Women (1993, Sister Vision Press) was published.
In 1995, she founded a non-profit educational organization called Laughing Crow Productions and served as the executive director for 5 years. Their mission was to promote social justice through theater and other creative educational programs.
From 1999-2003, Bryn co-owned and operated Olympia World News, a local cafe/magazine store/performance venue. She has also worked closely with the boards of several organizations for which she’s volunteered, including Stonewall Youth, the Coalition for Low-Income Power, and Safeplace, where she worked as a public speaker and advocate when it was a women-centered collective in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
For the last 5 years, Bryn has served as the legislative aide for Adam Kline, a state senator from South Seattle. A good part of their work is to work with members of a wide range of organizations, including POWER, that are dealing with poverty issues and are working to positively change state law and agency policy/procedure. They assist people to develop their organizations, advocate for themselves, and to raise public and private funds.
Bryn plays upright bass in a local old-time band called Deaf Lester and lives in a collective household with three other folks.
Monica Peabody is the proud mother of an incredible daughter born in 1990. A single mother shortly after her daughter’s birth, she got to experience our society’s lack of support and disrespect for single mothers first hand. A committed breast-feeder, Monica was made to feel even that was an act of defiance by many of those around her.
Raising a child during the passage of welfare reform made an avid activist of Monica. She joined the policy committee of the Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition (WROC) when her daughter was a preschooler and they began to protest and lobby to end poverty. When she moved to Olympia from Seattle in 1995, she was shocked to discover there was no welfare rights organization. After multiple conversations with parents who were being told they had to quit college and go find low-wage work, they started organizing and held their first welfare rights meeting in Olympia in 1997.
Monica accepted a VISTA position with WROC in 1998 so she could quit cleaning houses and organize full time. Although the VISTA stipend is considered poverty wages, it was more than twice her welfare grant. After 14 years of round the clock organizing, Monica is ready to hand over some of the work to the able hands of other POWER members, so that she has more time for other things she loves, like spending time with her family and friends, bicycling, gardening, and playing banjo, however, she still needs to be able to fund trips to the east coast to visit her daughter.
Ralana Whitehead is a single mom of three children who started volunteering at for Power during the summer of 2012. As a single mom Ralana has had to rely on state assistance in order to survive and meet her children’s most basic needs. It has been extremely difficult for her to have to rely on state assistance in order to take care of her family especially when she first began receiving state assistance back in 1998. At that time she was unaware of what her welfare rights were or that she even had any and was often not only treated with disrespect by the staff at her local welfare office but also given the run-around many times. Luckily she has, over the years become more familiar with their system and how it works and now has a better understanding of what her rights are. Ralana feels that many individuals who receive state assistance are un-aware of the fact that they do have welfare rights and believes this is why Power is such an important organization, “They help educate low-income individuals receiving state assistance on what their welfare rights are and are a vital asset to our community”.
I am the proud mama of a fantastic, talented, fun, energetic 18 year old son, Nathan. When I’m not at work, I enjoy playing with Pacific Winds ( a recorder ensemble), dancing with my Jazzercise class, taking on monthly creative writing challenges, singing in church choir, and (of course!) volunteering with POWER. In my early 20s, I had a really tough space of time in my life which resulted in my needing GA-U/X and later SSI. While I met some dedicated professionals in the state and community who encouraged me and believed in me, I also had to struggle with bias, policy that hindered rather than helped, and processes that added more roadblocks and barriers than ladders and bridges. Those years led me to focus my education and professional life on systems and policies that can be improved to recognize that all people bring valuable strengths, skills, and capacity in all walks of life. POWER offers its members ways to do that at the community and person-level, as well as advocating at the policy level. I remember the very first WROC organizing meeting at the Methodist church here in Olympia, sitting on the steps afterwards with Monica -- feeling both vindicated by the stories of other people who had the same struggles, and overwhelmed by the scope of the work ahead. The amazing people in this community and beyond have shown me, day after day, that it’s all about putting one foot in front of the other, helping where you can, asking for help when you need it, and celebrating the successes along the way. I would not be where I am today without the “power” of this organization, this beautiful community of people, behind me and my son.
Jordan Beaudry was raised in Oakland, California by his mother, who had him at the age of eighteen, and his mentally ill grandmother. Oakland is infamous for it’s high rates of crime and poverty, however Oakland also has pockets of extreme wealth that exist alongside the poor areas, sometimes bordering each other by mere blocks, yet remaining completely isolated from one another. Jordan grew up on both sides of this divide, his economic stability fluctuating wildly throughout the course of his childhood. This firsthand perspective has instilled in him a strong passion for social justice and economic equality. Jordan recently graduated from The Evergreen State College, completing his bachelor’s degree in 2012 with an emphasis in Political Science and Psychology.
At POWER, Jordan is using his academic knowledge, informed by firsthand experience, in hopes of helping those who are living through similar situations to the one in which he grew up. He intends to use his time at POWER as a starting point for a lifetime of pursuing social and economic equality for all. Before starting at POWER Jordan spent three years working for Sarah’s Science, a San Francisco Bay Area company which leads summer camps and after school programs that specialize in teaching grade school kids scientific principles. He is currently a WA Reading Corps tutor at L.P Brown Elementary School. In his leisure time Jordan can be found with his face buried in a book, hunting down LP’s of his favorite records, or camped out in front of Netflix enjoying pretentious art house fair, cuddled up with his beloved cat Boomhauer.”
Laura Studebaker is the mother of two wonderful, creative school aged children. She discovered POWER soon after moving to Olympia WA, to continue her bachelors degree at The Evergreen State College, in spring of 2009. She had moved from the Chicago area where she grew up and continued to live there into her mid twenties until moving to Pacific Northwest. She was thrilled to find a welfare rights organization that shared many of her beliefs regarding parenting and low income organizing. She is grateful for the knowledge, empowerment, and encouragement she received from POWER members and advocates while navigating Washington's welfare system. She has learned a wealth of knowledge and the "system" while self-advocating and advocating for others while working for POWER. Laura has long wanted to be on POWER’s Board, but had to wait until she was no longer a staff member. Though her work-study job with POWER ended, she continues to volunteer as POWER’s bookkeeper. As a mother she deeply appreciated being a part of a workplace that is welcoming of children and sensitive to the needs of mothers.
Laura graduated from Evergreen in 2012 with a focus in social justice and human services. During the 2010-2011 school year she was involved in the gateways for incarcerated youth college class. After earning her BA she is looking towards earning a Masters in Social work. She hopes in the future to continue working with low-income mothers, children and youth. She believes families and communities are strongest when parents are well rested, supported and able to care for their own children to the best of their abilities. In her "free time" Laura enjoys hanging out with her partner and children, especially outdoors, exploring and enjoying the amazing scenery of the Pacific Northwest, reading and knitting.