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. What’s unbelievable is that a welfare grant is smaller today than hers was 20 years ago. Watching more and more families falling into poverty and being disregarded by our society is heartbreaking, yet makes the work toward building resistance all the more crucial.
Monica also plays and teaches banjo and is a member of the Oly Star Courier Bicycle Collective.
Julianne Panagacos has been drawn to social justice work since the beginning of high school. She organized her first protest as a senior in high school when the teachers did not have a contract and the administration was not willing to bargain. Julianne mobilized students in support of the teachers and led a walkout. She first came to Evergreen and Olympia in 2007 and combined her interest in social and environmental movements by concentrating on food politics. She worked on opening up the Flaming Eggplant Student-Run Collective Cafe, at the Evergreen campus that specializes in local and seasonal food. Through this work she met many committed and effective social change agents and organizations of which POWER was one.
Community Jobs-Office Assistant and Book Keeper
Laura Studebaker is the mother of two wonderful, creative school aged children. She discovered POWER soon after moving to Olympia WA from Chicago, in spring of
2009. She was thrilled to find a welfare rights organization that shared many of her beliefs
regarding parenting and low income organizing. While living in Chicago as young single low income mama she would dream of finding and being a part of an organization that did welfare rights work and values motherhood.
Laura has worked with POWER since September 2010 and has worn many hats at POWER in that time as a workstudy student for two years doing office work, advoacy and out reach. She was a board member through 2012, and has been POWER’s ongoing book keeper since 2011. Currently she is doing part of a community jobs placement for POWER. And feels blessed being able to do work she cares about while in that program. As a mother she deeply appreciates being a part of a workplace that is welcoming of children and sensitive to the needs of parents.
Laura graduated from Evergreen in 2012 with a focus in social justice and human services. Since that time she has strengthened her advocacy skills, working as an advocate for Safeplace and a doula with the Birth Attendants: Prison Doula Project. Her work has been fueled through a belief that families and communities are strongest when parents are well supported and able to care for their own children to the best of their abilities, She believes strongly that everyone who wants to has the innate strength and right to parent and that with adequate support anyone with the desire to do so can develop the tools to be a great parent regardless of income or living situation.
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.