Put People First! PA was all over print, video and radio news over the past week – highlighted from our role in the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress in Washington, D.C.

Here are a few of our recent media mentions:

“Poor people got an audience with Democratic candidates. Many were skeptical that politicians can help them” (The Inquirer) by Jonathan Tamari, June 24, 2019

“The Right’s Cure for Poverty: Hard Work and Father Figures At a hearing, Republicans told a familiar story while the Poor People’s Campaign presented a bold budget proposal” (The Nation) by Greg Kaufmann, June 20, 2019

“Poor People’s Campaign and 2020” (WNYC) by The Brian Lehrer Show, Jun 19, 2019

Want to see more of Put People First! PA’s press coverage? We’re updating our website press page. Stay tuned for updates!

Meet Put People First! PA’s 2019 Mother Jones Leadership Program Leaders

MJLP launches with six Healthcare Rights Committee (HRC) Leaders from across the state

On June 2nd and 3rd, the 4th annual Mother Jones Leadership Program launched with a retreat at beautiful Camp Sequanota in western PA. The Mother Jones Leadership Program (MJLP) is a leadership development program for Put People First! PA (PPF-PA) members of varied backgrounds, religions, genders, ages and abilities across the state who are living near the poverty line. The MJLP runs from the Leadership Institute at the end of April through the Membership Assembly in early October. During that time, Mother Jones Leaders are paired with an experienced organizing mentor inside of PPF-PA, and are provided with a stipend to help remove barriers to participation and invest in their skill development and political education. Meet this year’s leaders:

Jacob Butterly – Montgomery County HRC

Hi everyone. I’m one of the coordinators for the fledgling Montco HRC in Southeastern PA and the theomusicologist for the PA Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. I’ve been in PPF-PA since the first week of January 2017, having stumbled into a meeting on the recommendation of a friend. I was feeling lost, angry and bitter towards the world, politics, and myself because my sister had died from cancer, very suddenly and unfairly, the spring prior. I know my sister didn’t need to die needlessly, in hospice, taken from her kids and her loving husband, her brother and mom. The same millions of others don’t need to be taken from us, every day, by the systems of injustice and cruelty and waste we live under. I am honored to be one of the 2019 Mother Jones leaders, because I know that the vision and the folks in PPF-PA, and the work we’re doing, is the way to dismantle these evils, fighting for the unity of our class, the poor and dispossessed.

Theresa Phipps – Pittsburgh HRC

My name is Theresa Phipps and I am a member of Pittsburgh HRC. My son Daniel Ethridge is in Somerset Prison. He is doing life without parole. Hopefully one day he will get out. I got involved with Put People First! PA to fight for healthcare. Everyone has a right to have healthcare.  I am excited to become a strong leader. I would like to become more clear and able to explain what we do. I am amazed by everything that is going on with Put People First! PA. I am excited to be chosen to be a part of the Mother Jones Leadership Program.

Madeline Burrows – Johnstown HRC

Madeline Burrows is a Member of the Johnstown HRC. She is a member of the Political Education and Leadership Development team and the Community Care team. She got involved with Put People First! PA because of her drive to be a part of a movement that would be building up the power of poor and working-class people. She is an almost 20-year-old college student and for the past 5 years she, her mom, and sometimes brother have been struggling with having heating and hot water on and off. During the winter of 2017-2018 the lack of heating in their house caused their pipes to freeze over and bust open, leaving the kitchen ceiling completely caved in, the kitchen and bathroom flooding and freezing over. Living in different places for 8 months lead to Put People First! PA members Ben and Laycee to knock on the door of one of the areas they were staying at the time. Her goal for the Mother Jones Leadership Program is to develop into a leadership role.

Denyne Pollard – Pittsburgh HRC

Hello, I’m Denyne Pollard, a Pittsburgh native. I belong to the Pittsburgh HRC and I have the pleasure of finding people, just like myself, who want to see positive change in healthcare and our human rights as a people. I consider myself a pretty inquisitive person, always picking up info and pamphlets to read. I happened up on Put People First! PA info at the library and again on Facebook. I ended up calling the number because it spoke to me in regards to uniting to combat issues near to my own struggles. I met Ben, who was very patient with me from the start. The HRC group meeting was a very kind and welcoming group. I am happy to say, May of 2019, marks my one year anniversary with PPF-PA. One of my immediate goals is to work on public facilitation and speaking in front of groups. We have high hopes of getting something started in the Mon Valley region. I am just very honored to get all I can from the Mother Jones Leadership Program.

Matthew Rosing – Lancaster HRC

Hello my name is Matthew Rosing. I am a member of the Lancaster HRC, and Community Care team. I am honored this year to be involved in the Mother Jones Leadership Program. This work is so important to me.  We must stand together to fight against this evil system of oppression we find ourselves in. I am looking forward to growing through the MJLP into a confident leader in my community. I hope to learn the skills I need to continue the work of many great leaders of the past. I hope to grow the Lancaster HRC into a strong voice for change in this world. Through the mentors and advisors I know this goal will be achieved.


Jennina Rose Gorman – Altoona HRC 

I am Jennina Rose Gorman and the  HRC coordinator for Altoona PA. I am an active member of the Media and Communications team, Steering Committee, and HRC coordinators group. Right before joining PPF-PA, my fiancee at the time, Tim, became violently ill. He had Medicaid through the state, and though he was vomiting, and in constant pain – he was met with demeaning language and given opioid pain meds, and sent home – rather than diagnostic tests. For 6 months, this cycle continued. Until finally, I became angry. I went to the ER and threatened a lawsuit before he was able to get the life saving surgery and treatment he needed.I remember thinking that nobody should have to fight so hard just to survive and receive medical treatment, and respect. It was then I really became active in PPF-PA, because I really saw and understood the need for healthcare for all, and that it was a human right. My goal is to grow in personal development and my leadership development and facilitation roles. To gain a better understanding of Leadership Across Differences and Political Education. 

By Jennina Rose Gorman, Altoona

First and foremost,  I  am a nerd. I need you to understand that to preface this story. I come from a long line of family who love The Shire, wished others to “Live long and Prosper”, believed in the power of the force,  and looked up to Stan Lee and the hero’s of his Marvel Universe as guides in my own life. It is in the Marvel universe and  that this particular tale takes place.

April 26th 2019- the national release date of Avengers Endgame. The movie we are told will end an era of super hero’s and super villains.  The brilliant culmination of all of Stan Lee’s most famous creations, and the fate of the Marvel universe,  rest in this last chapter.

My husband and I , like many other Marvel fans, are determined to see it, on the 1st night of its release. I excitedly got off from work, dressed myself in a Gamora t-shirt and Spider-Man hoodie, and went to my local theater. We arrive 30 minutes early,  even though we pre-purchased our tickets.

I have NEVER seen the parking lot so full. Indeed,  I can only find parking 2 lots away in an area that isn’t even paved yet. I see many parents with children, ages newborn to teens, all wearing something of their favorite hero’s. Some adults even showed up in full cosplay, and are greeted with compliments and instant comradery- the Wakanda costumes are particularly beautiful and well done.      We arrive in the theater, drinks in hand, strangers call out to us “How many seats do you need?” “There’s room over here!”. The seats we find are in the middle of a middle row.  Our new row-mates stand up and smile as we pass, complimenting my Spiderman hoodie, or Gamora t-shirt.

Now seated and ready, I take in the now overflowing theater around me. There’s working-class families, with 2-4 kids, each with popcorn and drinks. The retired  couple holding hands in front of us. The whole row of black sorority girls, who yell out “Wakanda Forever!” during the battles.  My husband makes a sarcastic joke and it’s echoed throughout the theater with laughter and approval from a room full of strangers.

This movie theater is filled with people from all walks of life. Different ages, varying incomes, different races, religions and sexes- but none of that matters right now. For the next 3 hours, we will all laugh, cry, cheer and wait on baited breath – together. We will comfort the strangers next to us, while they weep, and smile knowingly when our eyes meet.For 3 hours, we are in this together. We are a community, believing in something so much, that none of our differences matter.

My brother Josh had a similar experience when he took my nephew to see this movie. He reflected afterwards: ” In the old days  Stan would have his “editorial” in his comic books and his message was often one of how we all need to stick together and respect one another despite our differences. I could imagine him beaming down from above and saying “This is what it’s all about, folks. Excelsior!” Maybe we’d be better off if our first questions about one another were “D.C. or Marvel?”, “Captain America or Iron Man?”, “Ant Man or Wasp?” etc. etc. I don’t know, it’s stupid, but it was one of those rare moments where I actually felt connected to the rest of the universe and the human race. Well done, Stan.”

The work we do, in Put People First, and The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, of uniting the poor and dispossessed, is hard work, but it’s necessary.  We must come together and work together to achieve a better society for all. There are those who scoff at this goal, and call it impossible.  They are wrong. I’ve seen it, I  lived it, for 3 hours and 2 min. It would be a beautiful place to remain.  Trust me brothers and sisters- it’s worth fighting for.  Excelsior. 

Our semi-annual newsletter, The Keystone, is a great introduction to Put People First! PA, our work, and our community. It’s all written by our members for our own communication and education, and for supporters and new relationships to get to know us better. Each issue features reports from our work, news about our victories, stories about the health care system and the other issues affecting our communities, and poetry and artwork.

Click below to check out the Spring/Summer 2019 KEYSTONE online. Print copies are being distributed at Spring Leadership Institutes and will be available at Healthcare Rights Committee (HRC) meetings and tabling events.

KEYSTONE Spring/Summer 2019