by Aria Overli
Nearly three years ago, I walked into a room with very little understanding of what I was walking into. It was for an ACTIONN Immigration Reform Strategy Team meeting. I sat quietly in the corner and listened, unsure of what this organization was or what their role in the community was. I left the meeting still a little confused, but I came to the next meeting, and the picture started to come together. The work that ACTIONN was doing left me impressed and excited to become involved.
Six months later, I began working for ACTIONN, and I got to see the behind the scenes work that went into making ACTIONN what it was.
In the three years since I first walked into that meeting, I’ve seen ACTIONN make great gains for our community, but what we have accomplished in 2017 shows me that ACTIONN continues to move forward and to grow. In 2017, we have accomplished more than we ever had. And in 2018, we have so much more work to do to keep moving forward.
This year, we worked with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to provide sanctuary for an immigrant facing deportation, and we successfully blocked his deportation. We worked with the International Center at UNR to craft language for the City declaring that undocumented immigrants would not be unduly targeted by local police and that people from all over the world would be welcomed in Reno with open arms.
We hired a full-time economic justice organizer (that’s me!) and were able to begin our Weeklies Organizing Initiative. This is the first time in ACTIONN’s history that we were able to do full-scale outreach to communities most affected by the issues that we are working on. Through this work, we were able to bring serious discussion to the proposed anti-vagrancy ordinances that the Reno City Council had been pursuing, leading to national attention. This pressure caused the City to back off of these dangerous ordinances and allowed them to concentrate on actual solutions to houselessness.
We brought a coalition of communities of faith to stand in solidarity for a tiny home village for our homeless neighbors. Faith communities throughout the area dedicated their money and the people-power to get the village up and running and to push the Reno City Council to move forward with the project.
This winter, we organized a coalition of faith communities and community organizations to staff an emergency winter shelter to protect the most vulnerable members of our community from exposure and frostbite. We will be able to get dozens of folks off of the streets during the most dire weather conditions this winter.
And we are working closely with code enforcement to ensure that weekly motels are a safe and affordable place to live for the most vulnerable members of our community.
And this is all just the beginning. In 2018, we’ll launch our Speakers’ Bureau, consisting of folks from weekly motels and other people in extreme poverty who will go to faith communities and community organization to share their stories and engage people in the work of creating an economically just community. We’ll run our biggest voter registration and GOTV drive yet, targeting community members of color and people living in extreme poverty. We’ll step-up our work to push our local governmental bodies implement and fund a Community Housing Trust Fund. And we’ll continue to build coalitions of people of faith, community organizations, and marginalized people to show up and speak up when when they see injustice in Northern Nevada.
But, in order to accomplish all of this, we need your support. Will you step up to donate to ACTIONN by the end of the year in order to ensure that this work continues?