On the first day of Black History Month, SEIU partnered with the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) to host a virtual interdenominational, multilingual prayer vigil honoring the essential care nursing home and home care workers provide for our nation’s aging parents, grandparents and loved ones with disabilities. The vigil welcomed care workers from all walks of life and featured remarks from a diverse set of faith leaders and SEIU member leaders, as well as SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry and NDWA Founder and Director Ai-jen Poo.
Home care and nursing home workers — the majority of whom are women and women of color — have historically and intentionally been underpaid and overlooked. Throughout the pandemic, many of these workers have been forced to make the impossible choice of going to work unprotected or staying at home without pay. Defying all odds, they have upheld their commitment to providing compassionate, essential care for their clients no matter what.
“Because of Harriet Tubman’s faith, she saw herself as more than a slave. She was able to see a future. When she came out she encouraged others to do the same,” shared SEIU VA512 member Yolanda Ross, a home care worker who emceed the vigil. “Our union was an answer to my prayer. I knew God was listening to our prayers when I heard President Joe Biden talk about care workers as part of his plans to build back our country. He’s hearing the cries of those who have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.”
Attendees were inspired to put their faith and intentions to action by calling members of Congress, urging them to invest in Medicaid, and make the jobs needed to care for aging parents and loved ones with disabilities good union jobs.