True Stories from Rural Oregon

 What would it look like if we were winning?

ROP groups excel at the slow work of doing what it takes to build a movement that does win: the thousands of conversations, the events, the networking, the busy bee doing of what real organizing takes.  Another big part of winning is telling our story.

We may not be able to dominate the airwaves yet, but we can chip away at the existing dominate narrative, act like we are winning, and tell our story of who our community is and who it can be.

As opposed to getting caught in a false narrative that we’ve inherited, ROP member group Coastal Progressives used one small action – a human rights hero – to reframe the conversation and tell a different story of who immigrants are. They participated in ROP’s December Kitchen Table Activism by taking note of Human Rights Day, and honoring an immigrant human rights hero in their community.

Ginger Gouveia and Joanne Cvar report:

Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

With this in mind, the Coastal Progressives of Lincoln County presented Senitila McKinley, of Waldport, with this year’s award on Dec.10, Human Rights Day. Eleven Coastal Progressives and County Commissioner Bill Hall, last year’s recipient of the award, presented the award, reading relevant articles from the UDHR, while members of the community sat with big smiles on their faces. McKinley was surprised and very moved by the honor.

Senitila McKinley, a South Pacific immigrant to rural Oregon at the age of 20, spoke no English when she arrived. And, while learning English herself, she immediately saw a need in her community and, without funding, set out to provide literacy programs to disadvantaged people here on the Oregon Coast.

In 1992, she established the Seashore Family Literacy Learning Center as a community-based nonprofit dedicated to helping children, adults and families improve reading, writing, math, computer and communication skills. In addition Seashore provides free Saturday Breakfasts, Family Dinners, a Summer Food Program, after-school snacks, a community garden and free clothing for all ages.

McKinley works tirelessly to support homeless youth and families in rural Lincoln County. Senitila McKinley has truly accomplished her humanitarian vision of making human rights a reality for thousands of disadvantaged youth and families.

See here for an abbreviated version of the article covering the event published today in the Newport News Times. 

And thank you to the Coastal Progressives for helping us to see, and honor, the simple truths of our communities. 

Happy Holidays to all,
Amanda

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