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The Progressive Alliance of Henderson County is a merger of Progressive Women of Hendersonville, Progressive Organized Women, Hendersonville Huddle, and the Silent Vigil for Immigration Reform, blending our energy and passion, working as one to strengthen our impact .

Informed Progressive

Jenna WadsworthOn Wednesday, April 14 at 6:30, Jenna Wadsworth, former candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture will present on the Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana in NC.

Please click on the following link to join us!!!

Meeting ID: 815 6713 9186
Passcode: 347828

Postcard Parties

Postcard Parties will be VIRTUAL until further notice.  

Postcard Parties will PERSIST – but they may not be “in-person” at Oklawaha Brewery (renamed from Sanctuary Brewing), still at 147 1st Ave. E, Hendersonville.  We will post semi-monthly suggestion sheets on our FB page, website and in emails.

Suggestion Sheets can be viewed below or downloaded at our website.
Silent Vigil For Immigration Reform

A damp and chilly day could not stop the Progressive Alliance of Henderson County for once again holding its silent vigil for immigration reform.  Attendees stood outside Henderson County Building on Main St. Friday, March 19 carrying signs saying, “No Human is Illegal”, “Support Compassionate Immigration Reform”, and “No Family Separations”, among others.  Spokesperson Catherine Lynch wants people to know that they support a “kinder, gentler nation, and encourages a path to asylum for those immigrants that qualify.  WLOS was there to cover the vigil.  

About 10,000 migrants come to Henderson County each summer.  Coordinating through the Henderson County Public Schools' Migrant Education office, a number of local groups plan outreach efforts to provide basic items needed by these workers, such as: 
  • Air mattresses. Preferred are the Ozark Trail Brand which are about $8 each. 100 have been ordered but need at least 100 more. These air mattresses seem to hold air better than some that are much more expensive. 
  • Twin fitted sheets to cover the mattresses. We can use gently used sheets both flat and fitted (twin size), but a very few can use double bed sheets. 
  • Clothing. Men's pants small to medium (28 to 32 waist and about 30 long). Long sleeve men's shirts (small and medium). Ball caps. No women's or children's clothes needed at this time. 
  • Towels, bath soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bandanas, shampoo, razors, dish soap 
  • Gift bags: about 11x18 inches You can create handmade drawstring cloth gift bags if you're crafty like that! If you need instructions or material, contact Anne Backer (see below) . OR: Pretty paper gift bags with handles. 
  • Welcome message cards. (4x5 inches ideal size) Colorful cards with or without an envelope. Drawings or collages and in Spanish, with printed -no script, with your first name added to messages such as 
    - Bienvenido (Welcome)
    Gracias por su trabajo duro (thank you for your hard work) 
    Our Progressive Alliance postcards with the Statue of Liberty's inspirational message in Spanish (for these contact Sissy Owen via our website ) are ideal! You're welcome to a   handful or so at no charge or for whatever donation you can afford). Please sign your first name, so they know that people in this community welcome them. 
  • Protein and breakfast bars, card tables, chairs. 

The drop off sites are: 
  • The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville, on the corner of Kanuga and Price. The bin is on the office porch which is on 409 Patterson Street, right across from the Church. 
  • Heartwood Refuge, 159 Osceola Road, Hendersonville, which is right off Willow. The collection boxes are on the porch in front of the blue fountain. 
  • There will be a contact-free, socially-distanced drive-by collection at the First Congregational UCC church on the corner of 5th and White Pine on Saturday, April 10th from noon to 2:00 PM. 

Other ways to contribute: 
Cash or checks to Anne Backer (or to FCC/memo line : Migrant Needs at the April 10 drive-by collection event) 
Anne Backer
677 Spartanburg Hwy #104
Hendersonville, NC 
828 697 0641 
Gayle Kemp
by Lee Stevens

Gayle KempThe most urgent task for Gayle Kemp right now is to continue working on voting rights. Redistricting maps are being drawn this year and she has joined Eric Holder’s group All On The Line (AOTL) to help ensure that the process is transparent and open and that the maps are drawn fairly. 

“We really need an Independent Redistricting Citizens Committee to keep politics out of the process”, Gayle explains. “Gerrymandering has cost the taxpayers over $10 million in the last decade for the Republicans to defend illegal, racially gerrymandered maps in court. It has also kept the voters from choosing their representatives. I believe that those elected should run on ideas and platforms that people really want rather than have those elected choose the voters to ensure that they win.” 

Gayle started life as one of seven children born and raised in northern Michigan in a little town on Lake Huron. While her parents regularly voted, there were no dinner table discussion of politics. Gayle herself became interested in politics in high school, staying up late into the night to watch the national party conventions in 1972.

In an experience similar to many Baby Boom generation women, when Gayle told her school counselor that she wanted to be a doctor, she was told that girls went to nursing school. So she got married instead. When her husband joined the Air Force to avoid being drafted, he was sent to Viet Nam to fight. Because he worked on a SAC base with lots of chemical bombs, he contracted cancer and died, leaving Gayle when she was 23 with a small daughter.

She then started college at Spring Arbor University, a small Methodist school in southern Michigan, majoring in philosophy and religion. Inspired by a summer internship at Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic in Chicago, she went on to law school at Cooley Law School in Lansing Michigan. Along with her studies, she worked for the local Democratic party making calls and canvassing for candidates.
Also during law school, she remarried and had two more children. After graduating, she practiced law and raised her kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan, divorcing when her two younger children were four and six. She worked as a Public Defender after being a law clerk for the Michigan Court of Appeals, and once her kids were grown, she went out on her own, still doing criminal defense work. 

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, which led to a decision to stop practicing law and start a new phase of life after treatment was finished. In 2005, once she was done with cancer treatment, she came to North Carolina, having no intention of practicing law again because of the stress. She revisited her interest in medicine by attending Chinese Medical School, but after one term before decided it was not for her. 

Instead she worked from home for the Michigan Court of Appeals, writing proposed opinions on cases. She also started working for a law firm in Asheville, and in addition to getting her law license in North Carolina, she also obtained a life coaching certificate and family financial mediator certification. She worked on her own for a short time before starting to work for the NC Department of Justice, training law enforcement officers. In 2013, she became ill with a cold that ended up going to her heart. Her heart failed and she was unable to work for several months. Even with a defibrillator/pacemaker implant, the workload was too heavy and she retired. 

Over the years, in addition to practicing law, her work included cleaning houses, cooking biscuits at Bob Evans, and teaching law classes at the Southern Prison of Michigan at Jackson. 
These days, Gayle has narrowed her projects/issues to two: Immigration reform and voting rights. She supports progressive candidates and counts herself as a die-hard Democrat, with political beliefs at the far left end of the spectrum. She is pro-choice and pro-ERA. She is a feminist, as are all three of her children. Her son wears a pin on his jacket that says “This is What A Feminist Looks Like” and her 6-month-old granddaughter, Annie, has a onesie that says the same thing. Her mother is raising her right!

As an activist, she has organized actions for immigration reform and against ICE and 287g in Henderson County. She is currently the chair of the board at El Centro, and is helping to shape it into a better organization that is able to assist the Latinx community in multiple ways.  She frequently speaks on issues at the Henderson County Commissioners meetings because she believes that we must be a voice for what is right and speak truth to power. She is also willing to hold a sign on a street corner whenever she can for important issues. Most recently, she was with a group at the Amazon warehouse in Mills River standing in solidarity with the workers in Bessemer, AL. She believes strongly that we all must stand together if anything is going to move forward. 

“We must never get tired. We must never give up hope. We must always work together to have the power to become a better community and country. Most importantly, we must always use our voice to speak out and stand up against any injustice that we see. And VOTE IN EVERY ELECTION!”

Besides her political activism, she counts her grandbabies as her primary hobby, but they live too far away, and COVID has kept her from them too long. She has three grandsons, ages 21, 14 and 9, as well as a new granddaughter. She sews for them. She quilts. She loves gardening and can get lost in the gardens when it is warm,  forgetting she’s old until the end of the day when she aches all over.
Informed Progressive

On Wednesday, March 10, our virtual Informed Progressive meeting addressed an update on the status of COVID-19 in Henderson County.  This presentation was provided by Steve Smith, Director of the Henderson County Health Department.

Mr. Smith described the responsibilities of the County staff. Throughout the pandemic they have needed to keep County leaders and others in government, schools and hospital and clinic administrators and others advised on policy, keeping up with reporting and communicating with the public.

The vaccination effort coordinates with Pardee, UNC Health Systems, Blue Ridge Health, and Advent Health at least weekly and usually daily. The County vaccination wait list has been a significant time drain on the Department, but to date, they were in process of contacting those with list numbers up to 11,000, of about 18,000 who had joined the list. Vaccine supplies have not been very predictable, but fortunately have been increasing.

They try to provide access to testing for about 30,000 individuals a month. The list was then open to priority groups one, medical and emergency staff, and two, anyone aged 65 or over. Those community members on the list can help significantly by canceling their appointment if they obtain vaccination from another provider. County vaccinations had been at East High.  They have recently moved to the Blue Ridge Mall.

Stacy Taylor, at the Health Department, should be the point of contact for public information inquiries.

Please click on this link to view the presentation:

POSTCARD SUGGESTION SHEET   #214            April 2, 2021

North Carolina Budget Needs Support
Governor Cooper has unveiled his $27.4B budget for 2021-2023 with plans to reinvigorate the state by expanding health care, increasing funds for public education and teacher salaries, implementing effective environmental protections, supporting broad-based economic development and rebuilding infrastructure. Unfortunately, it will be an uphill battle getting the majority of Republicans to agree and pass this budget, even without raising taxes. NC has its own $1.6 billion reserve that can be put towards these efforts, without primarily relying on federal funding.


  • NC has over 500 thousand people without access to affordable health care
  • NC has the lowest individual unemployment benefit payout in the country
  • NC public education is ranked #37 out of 50 states for quality of education and has received an F for the amount of money spent per student year after year.

Once again it is up to us to convince the Senate House majority leadership to invest in our and their own state instead of ignoring its needs. Partisan politics will not advance what is now needed in all of our communities.

Let’s support Gov Cooper by contacting your State legislators and urging them to pass this budget that moves NC out of its heritage of being a “poor” state and into the 21st century of prosperity.

Pentagon Defense Budget, another money issue
There is a call from numerous groups across America that are demanding from Congress that the Defense Department budget be severely trimmed and then used toward our nation’s domestic needs instead of wasting trillions on weapons of war, and wars with no end in sight.

The $738 billion 2020 military budget was "more than all federal spending on public health, education, housing, and renewable energy combined. This, while our society strains under the stresses of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and growing economic crisis."  Jodi Evans, co-founder of CodePink. She said that "even a 10% cut to the Pentagon budget would end homelessness.”

Just think. 50 years ago, Eisenhower gave the nation a dire warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military-industrial complex, a “formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces”. We have had complete dependence on the military-industrial complex even in times of peace. We have continued to build and expand military bases in every state in the union and overseas, whose locations have grown dependent upon the Defense Department to stay viable. Our questionable multiple-decade wars are sustained by a vicious cycle of “inevitable” funding and short-sighted thinking that can’t distinguish losing from winning.

Well, how about shutting down some of these useless bases that keep dreaming up ways to validate their existence and let us end needless wars so we may use that money towards programs that restore America?

Severely trimming the Defense Department budget is a congressional issue that needs your support. 

Write both your elected US Senators and US House members to demand that we cut back on Defense spending, especially on aged military craft, bases that are no longer needed, redundant programs across military bases and war spending, and have them  use that money on programs that will re-build America.

Keeping this Thread- The US Infrastructure

The President has just announced his long-awaited Infrastructure budget with plans to construct a progressive, sustainable economy and modernize our national infrastructure. The first of 2 parts is designed to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic, putting many people back to work in a variety of environments. $621B for Transportation, $400B for Homecare/Workforce, $300B Manufacturing, $213B for Housing, $180B for R&D, $111B for Water, $100B Schools, $100B for Digital Infrastructure, $100B Workforce development, $18B Veterans hospitals and Federal building upgrades. This is nearly $2 trillion in projects, all to be paid through Corporate tax hikes, global minimum taxes, 15% tax on booked income from large Corporations, and Corporate inversions to make it harder for business mergers with foreign corporations, closing loopholes.

Yes, the dollar amount is large, but with cutting the military budget coupled with fair taxes on millionaires, billionaires and large corporations, it can be achieved. It’s time to put our county’s people first and restore our crumbling economy and infrastructure. If not now, when?

Again, write your Senators and Congressional representatives to support these Presidential initiatives.

Anti-Immigration Bills introduced in North Carolina General Assembly
Last Thursday, the NC Senate passed a bill that would require sheriffs in the state to cooperate with ICE by determining the immigration status of anyone booked into their county jails under a violent crime charge and contacting ICE if that person is an undocumented immigrant or if one’s immigration status cannot be determined. SB101 is similar to a previous bill that Governor Cooper vetoed in 2019. This new bill would not remove sheriffs from office for not complying but would charge them with a misdemeanor for failing to do so.

We urge you to oppose SB101 as it requires cooperation with ICE. This proposed legislation provides no protections for witnesses or crime victims, including domestic violence survivors who may be afraid to report if they believe that law enforcement is working with ICE. Local law enforcement shouldn’t have to do ICE’s job when it harms community trust and safety.

Contact your STATE representatives and reject SB101 and halt it from becoming law.

Some people don’t look.
Some look, but don’t see.
Some see, but don’t act.
Some people act.
. . . Anon
To connect residents of Henderson County and surrounding areas to civic engagement and activities at the grassroots level.
The Progressive Alliance of Henderson County (PAHC) compassionately advocates for justice, respect, inclusion and sustainable, healthy communities for all.    

Visit our website for more photos, events, and links to like-minded groups.
The PAHC core leadership group (currently Chris Berg, Nancy & Neil Brown, Lucy Butler, Sheila Clendenning, Laura Miklowitz, Sissy Owen, Vikki Schantz, Virginia Tegel, and Paul Weichselbaum) working together diligently to strengthen our impact, has created mission and vision statements for the group.

Please speak to any of us if you can offer your ideas and time about the future of Henderson County. 
Copyright © *2020-2021* *Progressive Alliance of Henderson County*


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Progressive Alliance of Henderson County · P.O. Box 192 · Mountain Home, NC 28758 · USA

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