SisterSong, a Southern-based organization whose purpose is to improve systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities, defines Reproductive Justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.

Reproductive justice looks different around the world, but communities of color, and especially those that are poor or immigrant communities, find common ground in the struggle for basic dignity. Communities like the Rio Grande Valley face issues such as environmental racism, police violence, border militarization, barriers to healthcare, and poverty, to name a few, and they all affect the well-being of our children and families.

In the Rio Grande Valley, 91% of people fall into the category of Hispanic, whether they are White, Indigenous, or Black, and are familiar with these intersecting issues. Listed below are ten ways to support reproductive justice in the Rio Grande Valley. Whether you are a Valley lifer or you moved away the first chance you got, you can always support these organizations and endeavors, with your money or time.

1. Become a clinic escort with South Texans for Reproductive Justice

Clinic escorts at Whole Woman’s Health McAllen in October 2017. Courtesy of STRJ’s Facebook.

South Texans for Reproductive Justice is a local organization focused on counteracting anti-choice activism in the RGV. STRJ has several large pro-choice demonstrations per year, and hosts gatherings to address local pro-choice issues. STRJ also organizes clinic escorting year-round at Whole Woman’s Health McAllen.

What do clinic escorts do? They:

  • Walk patients from their cars to the clinic and back.
  • Act as a buffer between patients and anti-choice protesters.
  • Reassure the patients when anti-choice protesters are harassing them.
  • Receive extensive training on how to perform the duties listed above.

Contact: South Texans for Reproductive Justice Facebook message

2. Volunteer with The Homeless Period Project RGV.

HPPRGV was able to make 212 menstrual product packs from these donations. Courtesy of The Homeless Period Project RGV Facebook.

The Homeless Period Project is a national endeavor to provide menstrual products free of cost to people in need. Kristeena Banda runs the local chapter and says the organization’s mission is to “make a difference in the lives of homeless and underprivileged individuals. To provide menstrual products, give hope & restore dignity.”

What do HPPRGV volunteers do? They:

  • Donate menstrual pads and tampons directly to HPPRGV.
  • Host packing parties where donated pads and tampons are packed into bags to be distributed.
  • Host a menstrual product drive, as a company, organization or individual, to collect donations for HPPRGV.
  • Help distribute bags of donated products.

Contact: The Homeless Period Project RGV Facebook message

3. Become a volunteer with Frontera Fund.

Courtesy of Frontera Fund Facebook.

Frontera Fund is a practical support abortion fund serving the Rio Grande Valley. In addition to funding abortion procedure cost, they also offer car rides, gas money, hotel stays and bus tickets. Frontera Fund is always accepting donations. Message Frontera Fund on Facebook for the most current and pressing volunteer needs.

Contact: Frontera Fund Facebook message

4. Become a volunteer with Jane’s Due Process.

Courtesy of Jane’s Due Process Facebook.

Jane’s Due Process is a nonprofit organization in Texas whose mission is to “ensure legal representation for pregnant minors in Texas.” Their main services are a statewide toll-free legal hotline and a lawyer referral service.

According to their Client Services Manager, to become a volunteer with Jane’s Due Process, you should do the following:

  • Learn about the forced parental involvement laws and the judicial bypass process so that you can tell others about their right to a confidential abortion, even as a minor.
  • Know where the Title X clinics in your community are – these are clinics where teens can get free, confidential birth control without parental consent! Also, folks can submit comments on Title X to keep it comprehensive & confidential for teens because of course the Trump administration wants to destroy it.
  • Submit a volunteer interest form on their website if you are interested in volunteering on their hotline or in any other way!

5. Become an advocate for victim-survivors of domestic abuse with Mujeres Unidas.

Courtesy of the Mujeres Unidas Facebook.

Mujeres Unidas/Women Together is a local organization which provides emergency shelter for victim-survivors of domestic violence; they also provide food, clothing, counseling, legal aid, and transitional programs.

Volunteers can:

  • Help answer the 24-hour Crisis Hotline
  • Become Sexual Assault Volunteer Advocates. According to their website, Volunteer Advocates receive training on agency services, crisis intervention, peer counseling, the dynamics of sexual assault, and hospital accompaniment.

Contact: Call or email Nelda Hernandez at (956) 630-4878 / nhernandezfjc@yahoo.com.

6. Oppose wage theft and support domestic workers with Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center.

Courtesy of Fuerza del Valle Facebook.

Fuerza del Valle’s mission is to “cultivate the leadership and power of unprotected workers.” The organization confronts the widespread issue of wage theft in the RGV by demanding that local businesses pay workers their earned money, and serves as a place for domestic workers to unite and organize.

Here what you can do to help:

  • Fuerza del Valle holds Know Your Rights trainings every Tuesday. Call 956-283-5650 for more information.
  • Read this report on Latina Domestic Workers in the Texas-Mexico border region and follow up on recommendations in the report.
  • Donate funds to help build worker power.
  • Ask what the organization’s most pressing volunteer needs are, on any given day or campaign.
  • Talk to friends, children and family about respecting domestic work, restaurant and fast food work, construction work, hospitality work, city work and any other kind of work that can often be regarded as unworthy. Remind your kids that waste management workers keep our cities safe, and tell your fellow adults that it’s not okay to yell when their fast food orders take a long time. Report wage theft and workplace abuses with the consent of those being mistreated. Share this information.

Contact: visit their website or call 956-283-5650 or message their Facebook.

7. Support Farmworkers/ Migrant Workers

Protestors outside of a Wendy’s shareholders’ meeting. Courtesy of CIW Facebook

Here’s what you can do to help:

    • Show up to local demonstrations that support farmworkers. Numbers are important, and your presence makes a difference. In March of this year, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers called a massive day of action, and protests happened around the U.S. to oppose Wendy’s refusal to join the Fair Food Program.
    • Join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Sustainer Program
    • Support any boycott declared by the Fair Food Program. The agreements contain protections for women and people from physical and sexual abuses and require inspections, as well as an increase in wages.
    • Start a local Student Farmworker Alliance chapter at your high school or college campus.
    • The Rio Grande Valley continues to be a hub for migrant farmworkers, so any way that you support farmworkers locally and nationally will affect RGV farmworkers, because of their migration routes.

Contact: visit the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers website and Facebook

8. Donate money to Texas Civil Rights Project so detained refugees can make calls

Photo courtesy of TCRP Facebook.

Texas Civil Rights Project is a legal advocacy organization with three main focuses: racial and economic justice, voting rights justice, and criminal justice reform. They often represent farmworkers and immigrants. Currently, they are working hard to reunite separated immigrant families seeking refuge in the United States.

According to staff at the TCRP Alamo office, there is a large local need for money in detainees’ accounts to make crucial phone calls to their children, relatives or lawyers. These calls can cost an average of 11 to 20 cents per minute. To help, donate money directly to TCRP. Be sure to earmark it with a note stating that it should go directly to detainees’ phone calls. For example: “Donation for detainees to make phone calls.” You can also find ways to volunteer here.

Contact: call (956) 787-8171

9. Donate your time to Food Not Bombs RGV.

A Food Not Bombs RGV serving in Indian Hills after flooding devastated the colonia.

Food Not Bombs is a worldwide effort to share free food with others. Sara Cabrera, who volunteers with the local collective, emphasizes the concept of solidarity, not charity. Instead of simply donating money, Food Not Bombs RGV provides a warm meal of vegan or vegetarian food and a place where people can gather and spend time together with dignity. Food Not Bombs is all volunteer-run and intentionally operates without a hierarchy of members. At most local servings, there is also a Really Free Market, which means exactly that- the items in the market are really free of charge!

People who would like to join the effort could do the following:

  • Cook a hot meal
  • Help serve food and/or run the market
  • Collect and/or store donations
  • Spread the word by passing out flyers, using word of mouth or sharing posts online

Servings are every last Sunday of the month; 3:00 pm -5:00 pm in Autumn and Winter; 5:00 pm-7:00 pm in the Spring, 6:00 pm -8:00 pm in the Summer.

Contact: Food Not Bombs Facebook message

10. Talk to your people!

Don’t allow your family to shun your cousin who had an abortion. Don’t tolerate your tias calling the kids “prietos” and keeping them out of the sun. Speak up when you hear someone saying “chuntaro,” whether it’s at your bestie’s house or on the radio! Tell your abuela she’s wrong about your Black neighbors. Challenge your friends and relatives softly when you can, and let them know they have the chance to change. When they’re listening, remind them they want to be on the right side of history. And don’t be above telling them that their behavior is not very walking-in-Jesus’s-footsteps.

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