Why I Fundraise for DCAF

I fundraise for the DC Abortion Fund because I see the actual impact our dollars make.

The feeling of utter awe at the difference we’re making is clear to me every two weeks when I take a trip to our mailbox to retrieve our completed pledges from clinics. Often times the mailbox is overflowing, as the mailperson has stuffed it to its edges with completed pledges from clinics, each pledge a statement that we were able to help a person seek the abortion they wanted. Each pledge is also a bill we have to pay, for $100, $300, $600, or much more.

As the treasurer, it is both an amazing and watchful experience paying these bills, as I’m thrilled for the difference we make, but always vigilant and hopeful that we can raise the funds to make this difference. Since I see the direct impact of our dollars, and account for each dollar that comes into and leaves the organization, I see the astounding influence this yearly fundraiser has on our ability to serve our neighbors.

Thank you for fundraising. I cannot begin to tell you the amazing impact you are making.

By volunteer and treasurer Emily C.

 

You can donate to the Game-a-Thon by clicking here — or sign up to join a team! 

Why I Game-a-Thon

I’m writing this in between posting pictures of my cat on Instagram. This might be a normal activity for me, but at this time of year, these pictures serve a purpose. They’re a personal, public thank-you to some high-dollar donors to my Game-a-Thon efforts.

This is my eighth Game-a-Thon with the DC Abortion Fund. Gather ’round, kids, as I tell you a tale of the time when we did actually bowl in D.C. like the rest of the country!

I joke about my age and history with DCAF. But this year I’m more serious than ever before about our efforts to raise at least $80,000 for the thousands of people who will call our helpline this year. As a case manager, I’ve had the privilege and frustrating honor to talk with many of them. They are the reason I push harder to raise more money every year.

The people who call our helpline are smart. They’re resourceful. They’re often frustrated, because it’s HARD to navigate finding a clinic and raising hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars for health care that is often not covered by insurance or Medicaid, and then to have to call strangers to ask for more help. Sometimes they’re mad. I’m mad too. It’s not fair that laws restricting abortion access target mostly low-income women and women of color. Sometimes they’re scared: Of protestors, of abusive partners, of the way their friends and family might react if they knew their loved one needed an abortion. Sometimes they’re sad, and I’m sad too: They may be calling to end a wanted pregnancy. They’re sometimes moms, and sometimes not. Sometimes I don’t talk to the patient, but I talk to their mom, or their partner, or their sister. Sometimes the patient is all alone.

While every call is different, they all end the same way: With relief. Yes, we can help. Yes, DCAF can help you pay for your abortion, and we can help you find other resources, too. Yes, this is one less thing you have to worry about. Our pledge is waiting for you at the clinic.

I don’t pretend to believe that we’re changing lives here. The patients who call DCAF are mostly very low-income, with families, often without jobs. None of that changes when we get off the phone. But we were able to make this one thing a little easier. To me, that’s everything. As a case manager, I can help, just a little bit. But I can’t do that without your help.

If you haven’t signed up for Game-a-Thon, I encourage you to do so. Our all-volunteer team makes it easy, with a toolkit that takes all the heavy lifting out of fundraising. If you can’t sign up, I encourage you to donate to one of our intrepid gamers. You can look for your friends to donate to them directly, or maybe you’d like to help someone who’s just getting started. Or maybe at the beginning of this blog post, you thought “I would like a picture of a cat as a thank you.” You can donate to me, then, too.

No matter how you give, please know that every dollar donated furthers our mission to help everyone access the care they need and deserve. You can be the one who makes things just a little bit better.

That’s huge. That’s everything. Thank you.

By volunteer Lindsey W.

Game. On.

It’s DCAF Game-a-Thon time and that means it’s time to help us raise money for the thousands of people seeking abortion care in the DC area!

What’s a Game-a-Thon? It’s our annual peer-to-peer fundraiser which concludes with an afternoon of our community coming together to play board games, jenga, cornhole, and more to celebrate raising tons of money for abortions.

Last year, we raised a record breaking amount: more than a third of DCAF’s budget for the year! And after we raised all those dollars, we got to celebrate with other awesome pro-choice people.

Now, more than ever, we need your help to raise money for patients who can’t afford the full cost of their abortion. We’re facing a multitude of state and national restrictions designed to deny access to abortion, especially for people of color and people with low-incomes.

Here’s what you can do: Gather a few friends to start a team, create your online fundraising page, and commit to raising as much money as you can by asking your friends and family to donate. Then come hang with the coolest pro-choice people in town to celebrate.

Not sure about fundraising? Don’t worry. We’ll provide tons of fundraising tips to make raising money for abortion access fun and easy!

If you aren’t in the DC area, or won’t be able to attend the event in person, please still consider joining a team. A great deal is done online, so as long as you have an Internet connection, you can help out!

Let’s rock this year’s Game-a-Thon together as we work to make abortion accessible — and have a blast while doing it!

WHO: You and the raddest abortion rights advocates in the DMV
WHAT: DCAF Game-a-Thon
WHEN: Saturday, April 28, 12-3 p.m.
WHERE: Exact location given upon registration (Downtown DC – Metro accessible)

Bonus points for creative team names…and coordinating costumes. Yes, there will be prizes. Join the fun at #Games4DCAF and #Bowl18 on Twitter and Instagram.

Together, we inspired hope for the future.

2017 was a year most of us won’t soon forget. Under a new administration that has already proven itself to be hostile toward reproductive rights, it was also a year that DCAF supporters increased their support of access to abortion care for patients in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas.

With a rise in donations, volunteers, and community outreach, your support made a direct impact in meeting the needs of patients. You can view our FY17 annual report here.

A few key highlights:

  • We worked with almost 4,500 callers on our funding helpline, 88% of whom live in DC, Maryland, or Virginia.
  • We doubled the number of DCAF volunteers.
  • DCAF case managers distributed $230K in grants to 1,446 pledges.

Help make 2018 even more successful — GIVE TODAY at dcabortionfund.org/donate.

 

Rise up for Roe!

Jan. 22, 1973 is an important day for reproductive rights. It was the day the Supreme Court announced its decision in the Roe vs. Wade case—its decision to legalize abortion in the U.S.

However, Roe has not completely protected the right to choose. Since 1973, anti-choice politicians have introduced and passed laws that roll back reproductive rights across the country, and clinics, doctors, and patients continue to be targets of harassment and violence. Far too many people still have their access to abortion delayed or denied due to their income or insurance status.

Today provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the implications of Roe and the strides we have made together as a movement. It is also a time to recognize that this constitutionally protected healthcare service remains out of reach for many people because of political and economic barriers—barriers that disproportionately impact people with lower incomes and people of color.

We encourage you to take action by committing to fight for reproductive justice today and every day. You can sign up to be a DCAF volunteermake a monthly or one-time gift, or help us raise funds and combat abortion stigma by joining our Game-a-Thon peer-to-peer fundraiser this spring (details coming shortly).

In solidarity,

Jeryl Hayes
DCAF President

P.S. Throughout the day, we’ll be tweeting on the hashtag #RiseUpForRoe. Join us!

Get To Know Our New President

This fall, the DC Abortion Fund named Jeryl Hayes as our new president. We asked Jeryl a few questions so our volunteers and supporters can get to know our new leader a little better, and to get her thoughts on reproductive justice today.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve lived in DC since 2011. I originally came to get my masters of law at American University after getting my J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. As a policy wonk, I love living in our nation’s capital and have found some incredible communities here. In my spare time, I enjoy playing softball on the Mall with my rec team (Summer League champions for two years running!), exploring DC’s restaurants and bars with friends, and taking my pup Max to the dog park.

What inspires your volunteer work with DCAF (or, what makes you DCAF?)

I have long admired the impressive abortion support work that DCAF provides for the DC, Maryland, and Virginia communities, particularly in utilizing an all-volunteer team to carry out DCAF’s goals. I’m excited for the opportunity to engage in the direct services of the policies for which I have spent my professional career advocating.

What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in your time as president?

I’m looking forward to seeing the ways that DCAF can respond to the needs of our patients and our community. DCAF is about to implement a strategic plan that will further our goals and mission, and will find ways to serve more people and be able to continue to grow, despite the current political focus on rolling back reproductive rights.

How do you stay optimistic in unfriendly political climates?

Although our nation seems more divided than ever, I have been pleasantly surprised by people who have become engaged with the political process instead of being on the sidelines. The grassroot efforts to combat restrictions on health care generally, and abortion and contraceptive care specifically, have been incredibly inspirational. Hearing stories about folks who have put their legislators contact information on speed dial and regularly call their members of Congress has helped me stay optimistic in the face of the current political climate. Seeing people across the country, especially young people, women, and LGBTQ people decide to run for office or get involved with exciting candidates renews my faith that everything will be okay.

What advice do you have for new volunteers or those looking for ways to get involved in the fight for reproductive justice?

There are some incredible reproductive justice advocates working for amazing organizations all across the country and here in DC. Support as many grassroots organizations as you can, including donating to support the work on the ground they are pursuing, engaging and sharing their social media content, and educating yourself about the barriers that still remain in the fight for reproductive justice.

Kiara* needs your help today.

We need your help! One of our patients is facing a large funding gap.

Kiara* is a 15-year-old who decided she wasn’t ready to become a parent. But when she couldn’t find an abortion provider in her homestate of Georgia to take her, she had to look for other options. Kiara managed to secure an appointment in the DC area today, but she still faces a funding gap of $6,000 to access the care she needs. She has asked friends, family, and other abortion funds across the country for help, but she still faces a large medical bill she and her family cannot afford.

We have committed to making sure Kiara can make her appointment, but we need your help to cover the cost. Can you pitch in $15, $25, $50, or whatever you can afford?

No one should have to travel hundreds of miles just to face burdensome financial barriers to access abortion care.

Please give whatever you can today.

*Name has been changed for privacy

Why I DCAF

By the time I went to my first abortion fund volunteer training at the ACCESS Women’s Health Justice fund in California, where I used to live, I’d worked in sexual health for three years, not to mention the time I spent leading what was essentially a roving sex education collective in undergrad. Abortion rights have been important to me since I developed a political consciousness, and I was thrilled to have been accepted to volunteer. So, why was I so nervous when I walked into the first day of training?

Well, because I was pregnant. On purpose.

This felt like a contradiction. Or, rather, it seemed like it should feel like a contradiction. I didn’t know how to explain why I wanted to be there so badly, why I had started to feel even more strongly in favor of abortion access since I’d gotten pregnant. And if I couldn’t explain it, then would other people just see me as some kind of out-of-touch, wanna-be savior?

I disclosed my pregnancy during introductions, wanting to get it out of the way. But the skepticism I’d braced myself for never materialized. Everyone was warm and accepting. Over the course of the morning, I learned that five or six other people in the group of 20 were parents, including one of the trainers. Some of the volunteers had had abortions; others had not. A statistic I’d heard long ago in a lecture hall somewhere floated to the top of my mind: Most people seeking an abortion have at least one child. I think they knew why I was there even if I was still figuring out how to articulate it.

I thought I knew what reproductive justice meant. I’d read about it, hadn’t I? And I’d always understood sex education, my area of focus, to be about bodily autonomy, which is a key principle of reproductive justice. Yet I was still carrying around this damaging and false dichotomy in my head: Some people have abortions; some people have babies. Nothing could be further from the truth. I sat there thinking about just how much I had known, but failed to actually understand.

My pregnancy continued, and my understanding deepened. Strangers touched and commented on my body. Colleagues interrogated me. Doctors poked and prodded and issued strict prohibitions. Friends and family members lectured and judged me. Each of these interactions chipped away at me, and I realized that this invalidation of me—of my needs, my desires, my self-knowledge—in favor of my embryo is a different manifestation of the vitriol, shaming, and policy barriers that people seeking abortion face. In both cases, what the pregnant person wants, what they know about their bodies and their lives—none of that matters. In my case, I had the wherewithal to assert myself most of the time. But I knew that our clients didn’t.

So when I got my first volunteer assignment with ACCESS, I made it my mission to make my client feel like she mattered. I met her at a clinic after her appointment to give her a ride home. I showed up on time, offered her a bottle of water, drove cautiously. I listened to her talk about her day job and her plans for going back to school. As I dropped her off, she smiled and said, “I couldn’t have done this without you.” And I knew, then, that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, using my privilege (my car, my flexible schedule, my disposable income) to ensure someone else could access their right to an abortion. My job as a volunteer was to do my part to upend a series of intersecting systems that conspire against our bodies and our families, particularly those of marginalized communities. Seeing her get what she needed made me feel a little more free.

As soon as I moved back to DC this fall, I knew I had to join the DC Abortion Fund to continue the work that’s made me a better, smarter, more committed advocate. I know, now, what reproductive justice looks like in practice and what my role in achieving it can be. And I know it’s not weird that I feel more committed than ever to abortion access now that I’ve been pregnant and become a parent. I’m grateful to both of the funds I’ve worked with for giving me a way to express that and an opportunity to do the necessary work of building a more just society. I have a lot to learn about case management, but I’m ready to get started—because I recognize that my own liberation is bound up in our clients’, and we’ll get free together, or not at all.

By volunteer Hannah S.