National Advocacy Center shows no slow-down in 2019

The National Advocacy Center (NAC) has been working in overdrive the last couple of years. The year 2019 gives no indication that NAC will take its foot off the pedal. 

“Three issues currently dominate NAC’s work: immigration, human trafficking and people living in the margin of society. These are the issues behind the faces of those served by our Good Shepherd community.  We expect these concerns to continue to lead our efforts in 2019,” said NAC Director Larry Couch.

Larry will travel with Province Communications Coordinator Jeanette McDermott to El Salvador in March to visit the Good Shepherd Sisters.  They then head to Honduras. They will stand in solidarity with the people who are struggling against the corrupt Honduran government.  Afterwards, they will make arrangements to meet with the Honduran Good Shepherd Sisters.

solidarity with the people of Honduras
Larry Couch in the streets of Honduras during protests in February 2018.

Immigration system

In May, Larry and Jeanette will conduct a workshop at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days Gathering in Washington, D.C. Their workshop will address the root causes of immigration.

NAC will support legislation to overhaul the immigration system. It will protect Dreamers and the immigrants who are in the United States with Temporary Protection Status (TPS).  Dreamers came to the U.S. illegally as children, not understanding what was happening.  Many grew up not knowing they were in the U.S. illegally. TPS holders are under threat of being returned to countries that are not able to adequately welcome them home. Among those nations are Haiti, Yemen and the countries of Central America.

National Advocacy Center on Human trafficking and abuse

The year 2018 saw the launch of National Advocacy Center’s successful human trafficking conference. NAC will host another human trafficking conference in the spring.  

“Two pieces of legislation almost became law at the end of 2018. The legislation governed trafficking and abuse, which NAC and its supporters had tried to get passed. “Unfortunately, political wrangling doomed these important bills at the last minute,” said Larry.

National Advocacy Center
Sr. Winifred Doherty, United Nations representative for Sisters of the Good Shepherd, opened the NAC conference on human trafficking with an overview of the problem and its complexities.

Savanna’s Act focuses on women. It would strengthen the federal government’s ability to respond to high numbers of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women. Many of the women have endured shocking levels of violence, including sexual abuse and in some cases trafficking. 

Violence against women

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) needed to be renewed.  It is our nation’s single most effective tool in responding to devastating crimes against women. Crimes that include domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  VAWA helps close one brutal path to human trafficking.

“The National Advocacy Center will push for these two bills in the new Congress [that begins in January 2019]. We were so close,” Larry said.  

“If you are not signed up to receive alerts from us, please consider signing up at http://bit.ly/nacsignup. We could use your help. So could the women who would benefit from passage of Savanna’s Act and the Violence Against Women Act,” Larry said.

National Advocacy Center
Larry Couch with women’s rights advocates at the Women’s March on Washington, DC.

Economic justice

The National Advocacy Center will focus on economic justice with equal fervor in 2019. Larry and Staff Assistant Fran Eskin-Royer will advocate for an increase in the federal minimum wage to lift people out of poverty and pay people fairly. 

They also will work to protect safety net programs, such as food stamps and HUD housing assistance. This is important as pressure mounts to reduce or end them due to the spiraling deficit crisis. The deficit crisis is caused in large part by the recent tax “reform” that reduced taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations. Meanwhile, President Trump has proposed a ten percent increase in the military budget.

Collaborative efforts

In addition, NAC will continue to play a lead role in the Catholic Coalition. The coalition is made up of eight organizations that are working together for justice. The National Advocacy Center also will participate in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Catholic Social Ministry Gathering. 

NAC also plans to become active in the Latin American Working Group. Since 1983 this group has been bringing U.S. civil society groups and citizens together to influence U.S. policy to promote peace and justice in Central and South America.

Furthermore, Larry will continue visiting Good Shepherd programs around the country. He will also coordinate NAC’s work with the Province’s International Justice and Peace Office. 

Finally, Larry, Fran and the NAC Advisory Board will develop a strategic plan in 2019 for the National Advocacy Center. The plan includes broadening NAC’s financial base.

National Advocacy Center’s power to help people is in your hands

Larry Couch and Fran Eskin-Royer are the heart and soul of the National Advocacy Center (NAC). They understand the tough issues. They know the grave consequences that poor laws and policies can have on people. Especially the most vulnerable, like those being served by Good Shepherd Sisters and Mission Partners. The success of their efforts relies on all of us — our voice, our letters, our active participation.

National Advocacy Center
Larry Couch and Fran Eskin-Royer on Capitol Hill at the NAC Conference on Human Trafficking in 2018.

Larry is the only full-time employee at the National Advocacy Center. Fran Eskin-Royer is NAC’s part-time Staff Assistant. They do the heavy lifting and are on the front lines of advocacy in arenas that are important to Good Shepherd.

NAC’s Advisory Board of Directors is there to guide and lend support to Larry and Fran. But for Larry and Fran to be strong enough to make a difference and to carry on into the future, they need the help of each one of us. They need our voice and actions to strengthen their work.

If you have not yet joined NAC’s email network, please sign up today. Get involved in the issues. Sign the alerts and read the legislative sign-ons. Make your voice a voice that calls for equal justice and dignity of all. 

Start the new year by signing up for the NAC email network and get active in Good Shepherd issues today. 

Weekly alerts: https://bit.ly/2CCRPUU

Legislative sign-ons: https://bit.ly/2nkcJ2Z

Kathy Dempsey

Kathy Dempsey

Kathy Dempsey is Communications and Advocacy Consultant for National Advocacy Center of Sisters of the Good Shepherd. She is based in Silver Spring, Maryland.