Authors Posts by Crissel Rodriguez

Crissel Rodriguez

Crissel Rodriguez
Crissel Rodriguez is an M.A. International Studies candidate at Chapman University. She is a Research Fellow with the Women's Foundation of California and is passionate about women's advancement and equity.

Eleven women in Los Angeles started fasting on April 16 demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage. They say, if working women and mothers in California are to thrive, as opposed to barely survive, they need to start earning a living wage.

LA Women Fasting for $15
Photo by L.A. Women Fasting for $15.

On April 15, thousands of fast-food, home care, childcare and other low-wage workers from over 226 cities took to the streets demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage.

A day later, a group of women in Los Angeles launched a 15-day fast demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage in the city of Los Angeles. The City is currently considering raising the minimum wage to $15.25 by 2019.

They call themselves L.A Women Fasting for $15 and they’re mothers, fast food workers, attorneys, labor leaders and advocates. And they’re refusing to wait five more years to earn $15 an hour. They say that anything less than $15 is simply not enough in an expensive city like Los Angeles. Anything less than $15 is poverty.

They are fasting publicly on the City Hall’s South Lawn in order to raise awareness in the community and to pressure City Council officials into raising the minimum wage.

Mary Carmen Farfan, a mother and fast food worker, told La Opinion, “I work so much and can’t make ends meet. I’m fighting for my children and to be able to meet their basic needs.”

While the L.A. Women have been fasting, young activists and supporters have been canvassing their local neighborhoods. They are going door to door urging their neighbors to call their council members and to sign a pledge in support of raising the minimum wage.

Gilda Valdez explains on the group’s Facebook page, “History has shown us that ‘hunger tactics’ are used for serious reasons. We believe that raising the minimum wage to allow working people to survive is extremely serious! Forty-eight percent of workers in Los Angeles are paid under $15. I pray that the Mayor and the Council have the courage to do what’s right for the working people of Los Angeles.”

It’s Day 12 and though their bodies grow weaker, their commitment grows stronger. The Women’s Foundation of California stands in solidarity with these brave women calling for change.

This inspiring SF-based giving circle supports brave organizations that are challenging the criminal justice system and its use of mass incarceration in California.

RGHR members
The RGHR giving circle has awarded more than $4 million in grants since 2001 (Deborah Drysdale on the right).

It was the day after Mother’s Day, 2010 and Deborah Drysdale, member of the Foundation’s Race, Gender and Human Rights (RGHR) giving circle, was traveling to the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California—the largest women’s prison in the world.

Deborah was on the bus with her fellow RGHR members and children whose mothers were in prison. The children had been on this bus before. It was Deborah’s first time. Get On The Bus, a nonprofit organization that gives children (and their caregivers) a free opportunity to visit their parents in prison invited RGHR and the Women’s Donor Network members to join them on the bus and meet the women inside the prison.

“Before the visit, the moms had written a letter to their children. Get On The Bus collected those letters and gave them to the kids once they were back on the bus, homeward bound. It was painful to see the children gripping their mothers’ letters and a teddy bear they were given. The letters read something like, “We are your moms and we love you. We are separated but you can take this home today to remember us by.”

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Economic Development and Justice (EDJe) giving circle has been trailblazing since its inception in 1999 advocating for the rights of low-income women and girls.

Four members of EDJe Giving Circles. Barbara Pierce is third from the left.
Four members of the EDJe Giving Circle. Third from the left, Barbara Pierce smiles her iconic smile.

Barbara Pierce is one of those women you love to meet. She’s optimistic, cheerful and purposeful. They say that a genuine smile makes one’s eyes squint. Barbara’s eyes become two almonds when she smiles.

Barbara grew up in a working class family in Massachusetts. Like many working-class women, her mother was faced with a conundrum—to work or to stay at home:

“My mom didn’t feel like she could work outside the home because she could not earn enough to justify it. She felt that this influenced a lot of her choices because, as a stay-at-home mom, she didn’t have freedom in terms of making financial decisions. That’s always struck a chord with me.”

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Violets' Giving Circle is a youth-led giving circle of the Women’s Foundation of California. Since 2008 they’ve awarded $165,000 in grants for educational programs geared towards underprivileged women and girls. We spoke to Carina Tracy, co-chair of the circle, to learn more about their mission, vision and work in Los Angeles.

“If you have an idea for something, reach out and find out how you can do it. You can make it happen,” says Carina Tracy.

A current high school senior and aspiring engineer, 17-year-old Carina Tracy has already made a deep impact in her community. As a young girl scout, she spent her free time delivering supplies to students in underprivileged schools. During the holidays she brought gifts to families at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.

It is no surprise that she is now co-chair of the Violets’ Giving Circle, a student-run giving circle established by juniors and seniors at Marlborough School in Los Angeles. Violets’ Giving Circle was established in 2008 after two high school students attended a fundraiser of a women’s giving circle in Los Angeles and were inspired to replicate what they saw in their own community.

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