The bankers and business elite may be trumpeting an end to the recession, but our working families are still scrambling to climb out of the economic valley. And with vicious cuts on the way from Austin, expect the weight of poverty to continue to fall on the shoulders of local shelters, soup kitchens, and everyday good Samaritans. Leading the humanitarian resistance is Haven for Hope and the SA Food Bank. More than 40,000 families find monthly assistance putting food on the table through the “bank’s” well-developed food distribution system. In addition to feeding more than 40,000 families a year, the city’s Food Bank has an aggressive outreach program that educates the public on hunger and poverty issues in the state. SAFB will also run the official kitchen at Haven for Hope, SA’s visionary homeless-services campus. (210) 337-3663, safoodbank.org; (210) 220-2100, havenforhope.org
Here’s your progressive action superstore. Esperanza P&J is one of San Antonio’s most visible and prolific social activism groups working today. Whether suing the City over Free Speech and Assembly issues, championing LGBT rights, or working to rescue women from abusive patterns and relationships, Esperanza is all about it. A true resource for progressives who want to coordinate their activities with people engaging in a range of issues and causes. (210) 228-0201, esperanzacenter.org
Founded in 1974, COPS has been a pivotal voice in shifting local politics away from the days of rule by the business elite and bringing some “color” into our leadership. COPS champions minority and working-class issues, such as housing, educational opportunity, and increased civic participation. Working to improve living conditions on San Antonio’s Southside and empowering citizens politically. (210) 222-2367
The San Antonio chapter of the Sierra Club is a great spot to meet hiking partners, learn about electric cars, or advocate for a more sustainable city. The Alamo SC chapter is active in a variety of policy issues that are helping San Antonio transition to a cleaner, greener city. The group works hard to educate the public on conservation and renewable power issues and promote positive environmental legislation in the city, county, and state. texas. sierraclub.org/alamo
If you are ready to join the fight for livable wages for all, including our burgeoning domestic-worker class, the Southwest Workers Union has a placard and chant for you. This 20-year-old social-justice organization founded in Hondo has placed itself front-and-center of many of the critical justice fights of recent years, including taking the most visible post in beating back city plans to go 50-50 on a multi-billion dollar expansion of the South Texas Project nuke plant. (210) 299-2666, swunion.org.
Call them outside agitators, if you must, but this union dedicated to organizing hotel workers in San Antonio (and across the U.S.) has made their presence keenly felt on the River Walk. Though targeting the Hyatt chain primarily, the group has staged numerous actions downtown and won key victories, including forcing the Hyatt to hire back a fired local union organizer and post right-to-unionize signage in the shop. You can almost feel the low-wage, service-industry heavy River Walk shuddering. Pending is a landmark multi-city OSHA complaint seeking fitted sheets to cut down on 100-pound mattress lifts, long-handled mops to save housekeeper backs, and more reasonable room-cleaning quotas. Local 251 Houston & San Antonio, (713) 923-1182, firstname.lastname@example.org, unitehere.org
Providing compassionate medical care for those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, the San Antonio AIDS Foundation also struggles to prevent the further spread of HIV through outreach, education, and testing. The SAAF advocates a harm-reduction philosophy “believing that all individuals with HIV need compassionate services, including food and shelter, irrespective of their individual services and practices.” (210) 225-4715, txsaaf.org
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