By Randi Stern
The day after Randi presented this reflection, the University of Chicago announced they would open a Level I Adult Trauma Center on their campus. You can read the coalition’s statement about the announcement here.
It has been quite an inspiring and educational year for me to be a member of JCUA and to have had such an active role in the success of the Trauma Center Coalition campaign. Before becoming a member of JCUA I had never worked for a social justice organization or thought a lot about the many social and economic injustices happening in the Chicago land area. Before joining the campaign I didn’t realize that there was even a trauma center desert on the south side of the city and that I was working in this desert as a long time employee of the University of Chicago.
There are a couple key moments that stand out this past year for me. This past summer I was proud to march with my daughter Stacy, an Or Tzedek alum, as we joined with the coalition to walk from Washington Park to President Zimmer’s house to publicize the trauma center desert during the public meetings for the Obama Library. It was so meaningful to have the support of my family and I feel fortunate that Stacy and I share this special bond and passion for JCUA.
I was also proud to march with the Jewish community and especially with those whose lives are most dramatically impacted by the lack of health care on the south side of Chicago. It felt good to live out the values of Judaism–Tikkun Olam–to do good in the world and to help move the campaign forward. In Judaism, Pikuach Nefesh teaches us that one must do whatever possible even to save one life. This is what this campaign is about.
I was also proud to participate in the disruption at Rockefeller chapel during Alumni weekend. I almost didn’t go because I felt uncomfortable creating a disruption inside an alumni event, but am glad I did because it was important to be there to support JCUA and the Trauma Care Coalition. The actions during this weekend proved to be pivotal in pushing the U of C to join with Sinai Health Care for the new Level I Trauma center.
The press conference announcing the new Trauma Center agreement between U of C and Sinai Health was extremely emotional for me. There were many long years of low moments for the coalition and now we had this time together to reflect on our victory. I realized that all of our hard work on behalf of the TCC had come to fruition. It was very emotional to hear Damian Turner’s mother Sheila speak to the press that day, and know that, due to our efforts, fewer moms like Sheila will lose their kids due to lack of trauma care in their community. Now many more lives will be saved.
Another proud moment this year was my participation in “L’Chaim,” JCUA’s public meeting. How exciting it was for me to see the tremendous turnout of Jewish leaders and guests as well as the more than 20 volunteers who helped to plan and organize this event. This campaign has resonated with our community. When I started on this campaign there were only a handful of JCUA volunteers but now our organization has grown to more than 1,000 members, with more than 30 actively participating in the trauma center campaign.
I have never been prouder of JCUA and my work in the organization than when we received feedback from FLY, KOCO, STOP and SHE at our coalition meeting in regard to our successful L’Chaim event. They told us that events such as this, where we were able to bring out so many from the Jewish community on a beautiful November day, to support trauma care on the south side, is why JCUA was asked to join their coalition. I believe we have gained their respect and brought greater awareness about the trauma center desert to the greater Chicago Jewish community.
It is clear as a social justice organization JCUA is continuing to grow, to be recognized and to be relevant in the community.
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