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2024 MFLA honoree wins big and other May updates!

It’s May and that means the 2024 Moral Fusion Leadership Awards are just around the corner! If you haven’t yet, purchase tickets here for the Labor-Religion Coalition’s biggest fundraiser of the year—we really hope to see you there!


The last few weeks have been action-packed in New York State. While the New York State Legislature finally voted on and passed a FY25 Budget, the final product ultimately fails to make the meaningful changes necessary to combat growing poverty in our state. One place the budget did succeed, however, was in allocating funding for healthcare facilities—it’s through this funding that the Burdett Birth Center in Troy, which provides the only maternal health services in Rensselaer County, will remain open for the next five years at least (more on that below). 


In addition to our New York State updates, read on for information on the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival’s June 29th mobilization, a statement from faith leaders in support of student protest encampments, and a report back from our Poverty Speak-out in Schenectady!

In solidarity,

Rev. West McNeill


Plan to close Burdett Birth Center withdrawn, huge win for healthcare advocates, the Capital Region, and the Save Burdett Birth Center Coalition


Earlier this week, St. Peter’s Health Partners announced a withdrawal of the plan to close the Burdett Birth Center in Troy. The New York State FY25 Budget allocated nearly $5 million in grants to help keep Burdett open, which provides critical maternal health services to the Capital Region and is the only facility that provides maternal health services in Rensselaer County. 


This is a huge win for advocates, the Capital Region, and the Save Burdett Birth Center Coalition, which has been operating a campaign to save the facility since last year. The initial plan to close Burdett was made behind closed doors, with no input from the community, and would have drastically reduced access to healthcare services in the already-underserved city of Troy and disproportionately impacted BIPOC and working-class families. 


The Labor-Religion Coalition is especially excited that the Save Burdett Center Coalition is one of our 2024 Moral Fusion Leadership Honorees! You can read more about their advocacy below and we hope you’ll join us to celebrate on May 22. 

2024 Moral Fusion Leadership Awardee Spotlight:

Save Burdett Birth Center Coalition

The Save Burdett Birth Center Coalition formed in June 2023 after the sudden announcement from St.Peter's Health Partners that Burdett (the only maternity ward in Rensselaer County) would shutter operations. Since that time, the SBBCC has organized tirelessly to save Burdett. They assembled a public event presenting the findings from a Health Equity Impact Assessment on the community which was attended by a few hundred people, hosted various public actions and a weekly table at the Troy Farmer's Market to get the word out and the community involved to stand in opposition of the closure. 

Additionally, the work of SBBCC attracted the attention of the New York State Attorney General's Office, who are currently investigating St. Peter's Health Partners and their parent corporation, Trinity Health.

As noted above, the Save Burdett Birth Center Coalition won a huge victory this past week, as St. Peter's Health Partners announced that the Center would not be closing after receiving $5 million in state-funded grants.


Faith Leaders release statement in support of student protests at Columbia University, CUNY, and more

Earlier this week, our partners at the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice organized the following statement signed by faith leaders from across the country in support of student protests. 


“As religious leaders from throughout New York City and state and beyond, we are compelled to express our dismay at the militarized response to the student protest encampment at Columbia University, as well as the unreserved demonization of these students and their supporters by Columbia administration and politicians.


As people of faith, we denounce hatred and violence in all of its forms. We affirm the right of peaceful assembly and protest as an indispensable tool to confront injustice and violence. We commend the students and faculty at Columbia and others throughout the nation who are courageously standing for peace, justice and life in response to their universities’ complicity in the unfolding genocide in Gaza, including their continued investment in companies that are directly supporting and benefiting from Israel’s grievous military actions.”


Read the rest of the statement, and if you're a faith leader add your name, here


Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly & Moral March on Washington, D.C. & to the Polls on June 29


This June, join the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in a historic assembly of impacted poor and low-wage workers, representatives from over thirty state coordinating committees, leaders from major religious organizations and denominations, labor unions, and other advocates as we kick off four months of outreach to 15 million poor and low-wage infrequent voters.


We are calling on candidates for public office in 2024 and beyond to endorse a moral public policy agenda that can expand democracy to all people and the end crisis of death by poverty and low wealth, which kills 295,000 people each year. Learn more about the event and RSVP here. 


Waking the Sleeping Giant: New York State Poor People’s Campaign 101


Join the team from the New York State Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival as we offer a look back at the history of our campaign and at the current conditions we are experiencing in NY and across the country. 


We will strategize to do M.O.R.E: Mobilize, Organize, Register, and Educate a movement that votes. We know that poverty equals death, as we watch more than 800 people die from poverty every day. We need to use this moment to wake the sleeping giant of the 140 million poor and low-income people in this country to demand policy changes that will relieve the burden of poverty. We’re recruiting people from all across the state committed to reaching poor and low-wage infrequent voters in New York.

Join the NYSPPC on Thursday, May 9th from 7-9 PM via Zoom. RSVP here. 


LRC joins the Alliance for a Hunger Free New York, the Schuyler Center, and the Rotterdam Community Center for a Food and Poverty Speak-out!


On May 1st, the Labor-Religion Coalition and allies held a Food and Poverty Speak-out at the Rotterdam Community Center in Schenectady. We were joined by more than 50 attendees for a community-building dinner, and then a speak-out, where we heard from 10 people on the ways that food insecurity and poverty have impacted their families and communities. One of the biggest takeaways from sharing stories was that food insecurity and poverty are not the result of our individual actions, but are the result of systemic injustices and a social safety net that fails to meaningfully provide for us. 


After the testimonies, Rev.  Amaury Tañon-Santos and Rev. West McNeill shared their takeaways from the event and spoke about how we as a community can come together to take action to support each other and make change on a larger scale. “The problem is not scarcity. We live in one of the richest states in the richest country in human history. It does not have to be this way. We have to continue to tell our stories and to remind ourselves and each other that we don’t need to be ashamed. It’s the system that should be ashamed,” said Rev. West McNeill, Labor-Religion Coalition Executive Director.


Overall, the event was a huge success. Stay tuned for more collaborations with the Alliance for Hunger Free New York, the Schuyler Center, and the Rotterdam Community Center, and more on LRC’s work to address food insecurity and poverty in New York State. No matter where you are in the state, you can also still share your experience with poverty or food insecurity by filling out this survey, which will help to inform the work of the state's Child Poverty Reduction Advisory Council.

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