PFLAG will honor local ‘heroes’ Sept. 14 in Newport

Newport News Times, September 9, 2016, Page B8

The Sept. 14 meeting of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), which takes place at 6 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Church, 414 SW Ninth St., Newport, will celebrate three PFLAG heroes — Nel Ward, Jeanne St. John and Kae Bates.   

Nel Ward moved to Lincoln County with her partner, Sue Hardesty, about 23 years ago. She has served as director of the local preview center for youth books, donating many thousands of books to Lincoln County libraries and classrooms and annually publishing hundreds of reviews of youth-oriented books   

Ward’s first experience in local politics was campaigning against the Oregon Citizens    Alliance Measure 9, in 1992, and that experience led her to run for city council as an out lesbian in 1994.  

Through her affiliation with the National Organization for Women, she helped write and actively supported the implementation of an anti-harassment policy for the Newport schools.   

Almost seven years ago, Ward started writing and publishing the monthly Central Coast PFLAG newsletter, which includes national and international news and politics, action items, and pieces about people who change LGBT life for the better. She also writes a progressive blog: www.nelsnewday.wordpress.com.   

Jeanne St. John and her late wife, Kae Bates, moved to Lincoln County 26 years ago. They are the co-founders, and St. John was the first president of the Oregon Central Coast chapter of PFLAG in Newport. That happened in 2008 following the suicide of a Newport High School student who was harassed and bullied at school and had no support at home or in the community. St. John and Bates had retired from the Lincoln County School District, St. John as a principal, and Bates as a school nurse. They were not only well qualified, but dynamic enough and well-enough connected to advocate effectively for queer kids in a community that has not always been open to change.   

Together they promoted Bully Prevention programs in Lincoln County schools.   St. John created and taught LGBT 101 workshops to school staff, students, and community groups. They helped establish Gay/Straight Alliance clubs in local schools and in the Angell Job Corps. They forged partnerships with schools, local elected officials, and community mental health organizations to serve LGBTQ youth. Under their leadership PFLAG OCC won the award for education from the national PFLAG organization in 2013. They  were also responsible for starting the tradition of a very well-attended Love is Love Community Valentine Party, which attracts young and old, gay and straight community members each year.   

PFLAG provides factual and helpful information and personal connections for families whose children or teens believe they may be among the minority in sexual orientation or gender identity. For more information, call 541-265-7194.  

  Jeanne St. John, left, and Kae Bates were co-founders of the Oregon Central Coast chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). They have been named PFLAG heroes. (Courtesy photos)

 

  Nel Ward is being honored as a PFLAG hero during the group’s meeting on Sept. 14 in Newport. (Courtesy photo)

 

Nel Ward Picked for “Queer Hero”

nel-ward-brown-coat-670
Each year, 30 Queer Heroes by Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN) selects “30 Queer Heroes NW” to honor for Pride Month.
OCC PFLAG newsletter editor, Nel Ward, was chosen as one of the 30 for 2016. Following is the information that will be included on a poster and
then posted on GLAPN’s website. http://
www.glapn.org/9060QueerHeroesMain.html
Jeanne St.John was one of last year’s 30 when she
was OCC PFLAG President .
Nel Ward got statewide attention in 2014
when she went into a Newport, Oregon, middle
school, in 2014 and paid all of the past-due school
lunch accounts.*
Nel is a retired teacher and school librarian
who moved to Lincoln County with her partner, Sue Hardesty, about 23 years ago. They
opened a bed and breakfast and a bookstore.
Nel has served as director of the local preview center for youth books, donating many
thousands of books to Lincoln County libraries and classrooms and annually publishing
hundreds of reviews of youth-oriented books.
The two women became active with the lo
cal lesbian group (CLASS) in hosting pot-
lucks. In a recurring theme for Nel, she and Sue published a monthly newsletter for the
group. They were awarded the Lincoln County CAN award for their contributions to the
lesbian community. Nel and Sue also co-edited
the butch cook book, which won national
recognition; and Nel followed that by editing
The Femme Cook Booklet
.
Nel’s first experience in local politics was campaigning against the Oregon Citizens
Alliance Measure 9, in 1992, and that experience
led her to run for city council as an out les-
bian in 1994. Through her affiliation with the National Organization for Women, she helped write and actively supported the implementation
of an anti-harassment policy for the New-
port schools.
Almost seven years ago, Nel started writing and publishing the monthly Central Coast
PFLAG newsletter that includes national and international news and politics, action items,
and pieces about people who change LGBT life for the better.
*Thanks to Rep. David Gomberg, the Oregon legislature expanded the free lunch pro-
gram to include students who
currently qualify for reduced-price lunch. Students in this
category will no longer be humiliated by being turned away from a full lunch in school.
[Note from Nel’s partner, Sue: The American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bi-
sexual, and Transgender Round Table honored
Nel with the Boa Award for co-founding
two prestigious committees—The
Rainbow Project, an annual list of the best children’s
LGBT books (http://www.glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/), and Over the Rainbow Project, an
annual list for the best adult LGBT books (http://www.glbtrt.ala.org/overtherainbow/). She
has chaired the GLBT News Committee, responsible for the new GLBTRT blog, GLBT News,
(http://www.glbtrt.ala.org/) and the Reviews Committee (http://www.glbtrt.ala.org/reviews/). Nel is presently chair of the ALA Stonewall Awards committee which annually selects the best LGBT literature (http://www.ala.org/glbtrt/awa
rd). Nel also writes a pro-
gressive blog: nelsnewday.wordpress.com]
Republished from Oregon Central Coast PFLAG Chapter Newsletter, July 2016

In celebration of Women’s Equality Day

VIEWPOINT
BY NEL WARD
Women’s Equality Day, Aug. 26, commemorates women’s right to vote throughout the United States, and women in Oregon have even more to celebrate on this year’s 95th anniversary. Unlike other states that block voting, especially for women, our state’s new “motor voter” registers all people who get driver’s licenses and allows them to choose a political party or opt out if they don’t want to be registered.    
Lawmakers in many other states have passed new laws or strengthened old ones to restrict voting — especially female, low-income, and racial/ethnic minority voters. State legislators mandated photo IDs, reduced the number of voting days, limited voter registration and closed voting on weekends. Only Oregon expanded voting to all citizens through a combination of the “motor-voter” voter registration bill and Oregon’s vote-by-mail law, shared only by Washington and Colorado.    
Two years ago, the Supreme Court overturned part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which allowed greater discrimination through state restrictive voting laws that had begun to balloon in 2010. Lawmakers assumed that non-voting citizens are Democrat and progressive and knew their e• et: one state legislative leader bragged that a voter ID law would deliver his state for Mitt Romney in 2012. During the current year, at least 113 bills to restrict voting were introduced or carried over in 33 states. Of the 36 states passing laws requiring identification at the polls, 32 states still have these laws in e• ect, and North Carolina’s law is scheduled to go into e• ect in 2015. Almost two-thirds of the states have laws to prevent citizens from voting.
A federal circuit court has stated that 600,000 people in Texas couldn’t vote because of the stringent voter ID law. A large percentage of disenfranchised voters is female because the law required current identifi cation to have the exact same name on birth certifi cates. Women who changed their names when they were married did not meet this standard. About 90 percent of women change their names when they marry. Fixing the problem cost up to $42 and required up to 250 miles of travel. Poor women had to decide whether to get a voter ID or feed their children. Texas is also illegally refusing birth certificates to infants born in the United States of immigrant women, causing serious problems when these infants reach voting age.
A frequent argument is that voter IDs stop voter fraud. Yet a 2012 report shows that this fraud occurs in 0.000002 percent of votes cast. Far more fraud comes from voting o• cials and computers, unrelated to new laws.
On Women’s Equality Day, Oregonians should take pride in its groundbreaking law that promotes voting instead of restricting this constitutional right. After the Oregon law passed, 17 other states introduced similar bills to simplify voter registration. The New Jersey Legislature also passed automatic voter registration with other reforms such as online registration and early voting, but Gov. Chris Christie said he may veto the bill.
Within the last century, women have gained far more rights than voting — opening a bank account, borrowing money, having credit cards in their own names, divorcing, expanding career opportunities for both married and single women, buying contraceptives, joining the military, participating on juries, being leaders in some religions, etc. Not until a Supreme Court ruling in 1971, however, did women have equal rights with men in owning property and obtaining employment. That same year, Congress proclaimed Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day because, as the resolution stated, “the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States.”
Women have still not achieved equality to men in areas such as jobs, pay, the workplace, sports, technology, job promotion, costs of items and services and protection from violence. Toward that end, the Central Oregon Coast chapter of the National Organization for Women honors the people of the past who have fought for women’s rights and continues to lobby for complete gender equality.
Nel Ward is a member of the Central Oregon Coast chapter of the National Organization for Women. She lives in Newport.
Newport News Times, Friday, August 21, 2015

Big News: 30,000 kids in Oregon will have better access to healthy meals at school – See more at: https://oregonhunger.org/big-news-30000-kids-oregon-will-have-better-access-healthy-meals-school#sthash.lQLiF8eq.dpuf

THANK YOU CENTRAL OREGON COAST NOW MEMBER FOR BEING THE INSPIRATION FOR THIS NEW LAW!!!

Apr 9, 2015 by Simone Crowe

Update, April 9, 2015: Governor Brown signed this measure into law! It's official: Oregon's school lunch copay is eliminated!  - See more at: https://oregonhunger.org/big-news-30000-kids-oregon-will-have-better-access-healthy-meals-school#sthash.lQLiF8eq.dpuf

Update, April 9, 2015: Governor Brown signed this measure into law! It’s official: Oregon’s school lunch copay is eliminated! – See more at: https://oregonhunger.org/big-news-30000-kids-oregon-will-have-better-access-healthy-meals-school#sthash.lQLiF8eq.dpuf

Everyone is better off when Oregon’s school kids can focus on achieving their dreams, not worry about whether or not they will be able to eat lunch.

Today, we got a little closer to making that dream a reality. We are excited to announce that Oregon legislators passed a provision to eliminate the school lunch copay. Starting this fall, kids who qualify for reduced-price lunch will be able to eat a healthy, nutritious lunch every day, free of charge. This means expanded access to a nutritious lunch for 30,000 children across the state.

“This is an important step forward,” according to Patti Whitney-Wise, executive director at Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, who looks forward to seeing school-lunch participation increase this fall. “We all want to live in an Oregon where kids’ talents are nurtured, their health is protected and they have a strong foundation for launching their dreams. Food is foundational.”

As the fourth state in the nation to pass such a bill, Oregon helps lead the way for connecting children to nutritious meals, and legislation like this helps positions Oregon for a future of healthy, well-educated leaders and workforce.

Connecting more Oregon kids to nutritious lunch is the foundation for improving students’ academic success. Studies show that nourishing food fuels kids’ ability to pay attention in class and learn. Good nutrition not only gives kids a healthy start in life, it paves the way for a lifetime of good health.

“We had heart breaking testimony on the need for this investment in the House Education Committee,” said Representative Margaret Doherty (D-35, Tigard), chief sponsor of the measure. “When students are hungry they aren’t able to learn.”

One in four of Oregon’s children is at risk of hunger. When those kids go back to school this fall, they will no longer have to worry about scrounging for change in their couches to pay for lunch. Whitney Ellersick, Assistant Director for Nutrition Services with Portland Public Schools, interacts with children and their families on a daily basis. “We have seven-year-olds who are eligible for reduced-price meals and who will come in and pull out of their pockets change — pennies, nickels and dimes. They’ll tell you, ‘This was all I could find, Ms. Whitney.”

For Oregon’s working families having trouble affording essentials — like food, a roof over their heads and doctor’s visits — the reduced price lunch charge has been a barrier, keeping kids from getting the nutrition they need for strong minds and bodies. For a family with two kids, the lunch co-pay can add up to $17 a month. As the month wears on, participation in the program drops, showing the burden.

Ellersick elaborates, “These parents are very hard working. They typically tell us, ‘Can you just wait until Tuesday? If you can keep feeding my kids until Tuesday, I’ll get you the money.’ While $70 for the year for lunch is not a lot for some of us in this room, it’s a hefty burden for these families.”

Last year, Nel Ward walked into Newport Intermediate School and paid off students’ past-due school lunch accounts — for every single student who owed money. Ward knows what this bill will mean for Oregon.

“This is about our future. These kids are the people who are going to be making decisions for us down the road… Besides, they’re little kids. They don’t deserve this. We’re a community.”

Photo by Kate Szrom

– See more at: https://oregonhunger.org/big-news-30000-kids-oregon-will-have-better-access-healthy-meals-school#sthash.lQLiF8eq.dpuf

Newport Woman’s Act of Generosity

Nel Ward

Nel Ward

Thank you Central Oregon Coast NOW member Nel Ward for your generosity and for being the inspiration for the legislation that is proposed (HB 2545) to alleviate the problem of many Oregon families not being able to afford reduced priced school lunches.

Feb 27, 2015 by Elizabeth Seaberry

Last year, Newport-resident Nel Ward walked into Newport Intermediate School and paid off students’ past-due school lunch accounts -for every single student who owed money. Her act of generosity moved her community, and inspired legislators.

We talked with Nel about her act of kindness. We’re advocating for legislation to solve the problem of Oregon families not being able to afford the reduced-price lunch co-pay (HB 2545).

Can you share a little about your background?

I’m retired. I was a school teacher in Phoenix and moved here to Oregon 22 years ago. I opened a bed and breakfast and bookstore. Now I have small publishing company. I also write a blog.

How did you learn about the school lunch accounts?

I was on the internet. I read about this man in Texas who was a tutor at a middle or elementary school. He discovered that his school had kids whose families had trouble affording the reduced-price lunch co-pay. He went in and paid off what they owed. I went in and did it. I asked the school how much was owed. I wrote a check and that was that. It was a little over $300.

What was the school’s response?

It went viral because the school’s principal wrote a thank-you letter in the local newspaper. A lot of people around the town commented on it, including my dentist when I had a crown put on. It’s a small community. There are about 10,000 people in town. They took notice.

How did Rep. Gomberg learn about your story?

Probably through the newspaper thank-you. He said something about reading it. He called me a week or two ago and told me that he was introducing this bill (HB 2545) and asked me if I was interested in keeping up with it. I said yes.

What do you think of the bill to eliminate the reduced-price lunch co-pay?

I’m extremely supportive. In the past, I worked with a woman here who started an Operation Backpack in Newport. For a few years, my partner and I would pick up the backpacks and load them and take them back. We donated quite a bit to it. The foodshare took over the program, and they had enough volunteers.

Why should every Oregonian care about this?

This is about our future. These kids are the people who are going to be making decisions for us down the road. If they’re not well-educated, and of course food is a requirement for being well-educated, or if they’re not emotionally stable, food is a requirement for that too, then they’re less likely to make good decisions.

Besides, they’re little kids. They don’t deserve this. We’re a community. We should help the parents.

– See more at: https://oregonhunger.org/blog/newports-nel-ward-paid-kids-lunch-accounts#sthash.UE1YCX7t.eGtZhF3M.dpuf