Dr. Anne Sheetz Helps Observe Women’s History Month 2021

AARP Northside Community Group will observe Women’s History Month 2021 by proudly presenting Dr. Anne Scheetz, an author, physician and founding member of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition as the speaker at our March 2, Zoom meeting. In this post Dr. Scheetz shares some basic ideas of what makes a good healthcare system and some of her own work.

A single-payer health program, also known as national improved Medicare for all, is the only proposed reform of the US healthcare system that can guarantee access to all necessary health care for every person living in the US, with no financial barriers or burdens, and with free choice of providers. It is the only proposed reform that can address the serious racial inequities in health and health care that shame us as a country. It is the only reform that can raise millions of people out of poverty by eliminating all out-of-pocket medical expenses. It is the only reform that puts people over profits. It is the only reform that treats health care as a human right. 

The enemies of single-payer health care are powerful and wealthy: health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, investor-owned for-profit hospitals and nursing homes and dialysis centers, hedge fund operators that invest for profit in mental health and addiction treatment, among others. In order to win against these powerful enemies, we must work together across many lines.

Some of my own work involves organizing with disability rights activists toward home-and-community-based long-term care services under national improved Medicare for all; supporting the struggles for justice of organized labor; and joining with groups fighting for Chicago’s public mental health clinics, for the U of C trauma center, and for Mercy Hospital as it is threatened with closure. We work together through one-on-one meetings, petitions, talks to groups, social media campaigns, and public actions, among other means. We recognize that we are in a long difficult struggle and we will continue, however long it takes, until we win. 

Come March 2, listen to Dr. Scheetz and get involved by sharing your own experience and thoughts around healthcare and the important contributions women have made and continue to make in bringing justice and hope to all.

How We Got to Today

A Conversation with Don Bell

In our last post, Participate: Transform your World, we invited you to “…transform your world by listening to a possibly different view of American History than you were taught.” We hope you were able to join us, but just in case you were not, we are posting Don’s presentation today and inviting you to join in the conversation by making a comment below.

In his presentation Don begins by sharing his experience on January 6 of this year watching the TV coverage of the certification of the United States November 2020 election results. If you watched it, you probably shared his astonishment and wonder leading his to ask himself: “How did we get to this?” Don being a retired higher education administrator, a community activist and a history buff had some ideas, ideas he agreed to share with Northside AARP Community Group at our February monthly meeting. 

At our February meeting, Don mentions racial reckoning and invites us all to suspend our beliefs and venture beyond what we were taught opening ourselves up to another view. If you are like me, you were taught: that the American Continent was settled from East to West; that Africans first came to the United States in 1619; that only Africans came here as slaves… Don points out some discrepancies in these “facts”.

Don talks about our common ancestry and how we all came out of Africa thousands of years ago. He points out that “White” is not biological trait, but rather a socio-political one–a measure of ones status in our society. He reminds us of men like Benjamin Banneker and Jean-Baptiste DeSable. He tells us how free Africans helped establish the oldest American city, St. Augustine, Florida .

Thanks, Don for an enlightening and challenging presentation of a history I personally was somewhat familiar with, but with little of the laser focus you presented. I personally never thought of “White” as a social-political quality. I thought of it as a biological marker. I now know that I was mistaken. I knew a little, but very little of the facts you present from the US Census Bureau. Wow! so much injustice. Thank you. You have given me much information I need to think about but maybe more importantly begin to do something about.

Dan O’Donnell retired from Chicago Public Schools where he taught at the now closed Montefiore Special School from 1970 – 1980 and then again from 1997 -2007. From 1980 to 1997 he sold life insurance as an Agent for the Mass Mutual and broker for many other companies. Presently Dan spends his days writing and developing online learning opportunities. During his sixteen-year hiatus from teaching he remained in contact with Montefiore serving on the PTA and Local School Council as the community representative. 

To the total chagrin of his sister Marianne, a stay-at-home mother of four, Dan’s proudest recognition came when Montefiore Principal Bernie Carlin nominated him as the Parent of the Year. Dan, as Marianne would tell you, never spent one night up with a colicky child… 

Dan’s work experience taught him to respect and learn from people whose life’s paths differed from his own. Dan believes, that despite often feeling like an outsider, he belongs right where he finds himself, and that all that is gift. 

“Just Do It”

Church Nurse, Sue Cox of Lakeview Presbyterian

On most Thursday afternoons, nurse Sue Cox of Lakeview Presbyterian Church on the Northside of Chicago gathers the Lunch Bunch seniors on Zoom to share in Storytelling. After brainstorming on topics to write about, they then schedule when they will share their writing, usually, although not necessarily, a personal memoir of their experience of the chosen topic. The week of October 19th this year the Storytellers wrote on the topic of voting.

As a Cuban citizen Alicia Hadad lived through a dictatorship and a regime revolution rife with violence and violations of human rights. Today as a US citizen and resident of Chicago’s Northside, Alicia writes: “Voting for a US president for me is an act of gratitude and the least I can do to defend democracy a system that is not perfect, but it grants citizens the right to select their leaders that will change or resolve the issues they care about by their elected representatives. Democracy itself means rule by the people. Use, protect and appreciate our right to vote! Protect our freedom!

Chicago Northside AARP Community Group’s Program Chair, Georgia Evans, shares the following encouraging words before our meeting next Tuesday, November 3: “With only days until the November 3rd election, I‘m not done yet, and may become a volunteer poll worker, like Jennifer, for Early Voting. It’s policy-not just the politics- that will influence the rest of my life like Social Security & Medicare for which Ann Marie advocates, and social involvement with like minded and opposing view individuals that drives me. If my then one percent vision mother could stuff largest to smallest campaign literature for me to hand out with then senate candidate Obama, and ninety-three year old hospice neighbor can write post cards into a hotly contested race this year, how will you answer Betty O’Shaunnesy  on Nov.3-“What did You Do for this Election?”. It’s not too late-quoting a Nike campaign-”JUST DO IT”!!!

Voting 2020

“What do you do when you don’t agree with someone?” This question challenges me whenever a disagreement arises. First, I simply want to dismiss the person expressing what sounds as ill-informed. Then I think of previous things that person has said that don’t square with my thought or experience.

I know I must get over these initial reactions and listen to the other’s opinion(s) trying to square them with my experience. Take President Trump’s response to the challenge that he doesn’t pay taxes. While he first dismisses the news as fake, they then boasts of just doing what the tax code allows and encourages. I agree with very little he says or does, but regarding his tax situation, i.e. not paying any for 11 out of the last 18 years, I must recall my own experience and thinking in that area. I actually made a living helping people “reduce” their current tax burdens by selling them insurance products that would defer these taxes if not completely avoid them in the future. President Trump has evidently mastered that art.

I no longer sell those products and I actually pride myself in being able to add to the common good today by paying taxes. Of course, I’m not alone in this. Two famous wealthy people think taxes are good:

Warren Buffett doesn’t think the rich in America are paying enough in taxes. “The wealthy are definitely undertaxed relative to the general population,” he told CNBC’s Becky Quick during an interview on “Squawk Box” on Monday.

CNBC Emmie Martin Squawk Box 2-26-19

jcc-manhattan, presents a number of good questions in the above Youtube video Voting, Elections and Citizenship: An Inter-Generational Conversation that you might want to ponder. Questions like:

  • How has your voting experience changed over the years?
  • What do you do when you don’t agree with someone?
  • What makes you think like you think?
  • What makes you want to vote for someone?
  • Can voting change the world?
  • What does being a good citizens mean?

Dan O’Donnell retired from Chicago Public Schools where he taught at the now closed Montefiore Special School from 1970 – 1980 and then again from 1997 -2007. From 1980 to 1997 he sold life insurance as an Agent for the Mass Mutual and broker for many other companies. Presently Dan spends his days writing and developing online learning opportunities. During his sixteen-year hiatus from teaching he remained in contact with Montefiore serving on the PTA and Local School Council as the community representative. 

To the total chagrin of his sister Marianne, a stay-at-home mother of four, Dan’s proudest recognition came when Montefiore Principal Bernie Carlin nominated him as the Parent of the Year. Dan, as Marianne would tell you, never spent one night up with a colicky child… 

Dan’s work experience taught him to respect and learn from people whose life’s paths differed from his own. Dan believes, that despite often feeling like an outsider, he belongs right where he finds himself, and that all that is gift.