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Service project: Filling backpacks with Interfaith Welcome Coalition
July 18, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
During our regular meeting, the Cosmo Rotary club will be filling backpacks with Interfaith Welcome Coalition to benefit families who have recently arrived into the United States from Central America. These refugees are in great need; they arrive with no money, food or water and often must endure a long journey to reunite with loved ones around the country.
Jan Olsen, a representative from Interfaith Welcome Coalition will lead the meeting, telling the club about their work meeting basic needs for asylum seekers, refugees and at-risk immigrants.
This service project ties in with one of Rotary’s six areas of focus, which is promoting peace across the globe.
Since each backpack requires an extensive list of supplies, our club has purchased enough to fill 48.
If you can, please bring the following for donations to Interfaith for future packs.
> Ballpoint pens
>Small Kleenex packages
> Cases of water
>Individual/single sanitary packets
Jan retired from the military in 1989 after a twenty year career which started when she enlisted during the Vietnam war. She spent the first part of her career taking care of severely wounded soldiers and spent the last part delivering babies. She progressed through the ranks from private to ultimately retire as a Major in the Army Nurse Corps. She served during a time before we had the right to serve in the military when every day held the threat of exposure and expulsion. Living in this environment for twenty years inspired Jan to “not only come out of the closet after retirement but to kick the door off the hinges’.
She retired to San Antonio to take the position of Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Service at the UTHSCSA where she established Adolescent Pregnancy programs in every school district. In 1996, she was a co-founder of Lone Star Ob-Gyn Associates which included the first Nurse-Midwifery private practice in San Antonio. The practice recently celebrated 20 years and today is a cherished and respected practice of five Nurse-Midwives and ten Obstetricians.
After 20 years of living in fear in the “military closet”, Jan searched for every way to make a difference at that time in our history………she helped organize the 1990 Texas Lesbian Conference. She joined the board of San Antonio Lesbian Gay Assembly and served two terms as co-chair. She was co-coordinator of four of the SALGA PRIDE picnics at San Pedro Park and created the SALGA Community Fund which directed funds from the picnic to local LGBT organizations. She was a co-founder of the San Antonio Political Action Caucus. Jan was a board member of the Lesbian/Gay Right Lobby of Texas now Equality Texas. She also spent a lot of time stuffing envelopes and volunteering for the local chapter of the Human Rights Campaign.
In 1992, Jan was one of the founding members, in partnership with the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, of the Lesbian and Gay Media Project which met with local editorial boards and increased consciousness about media coverage of LGBT issues. They also produced the first San Antonio Lesbian/Gay Film Festival, “Out at the Movies”.
Jan was and continues to be a board member of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center which has been a passionate and uncompromising advocate for the establishment and expansion of LGBT rights for the past 30 years.
Jan moved to Austin in 1998 for four years to pursue a Master’s in Chinese Medicine. After her return to San Antonio, she continued to practice as a Nurse-Midwife as apart of Lone Star Ob/Gyn Associates with an integration of acupuncture. She retired from the practice in 2014. It has been the greatest joy and privilege of her life to have been part of the birth experience of thousands of families over the past 40 years.
Jan has committed to a post- retirement vision of being “informed, involved and inspired”. She remains an active member or the Board of the Esperanza Peace and justice Center, a member of the core team of the San Antonio peaceCenter, a member of the steering committee of the San Antonio Feminist Film Festival, a member of Stonewall Democrats and an active supporter and volunteer for Planned Parenthood. She has been a long time supporter of Equality Texas and the Human Rights Campaign.
Jan is a volunteer for RAICES and the Interfaith Welcome Coalition who support and advocate for the Immigrant and Refugee families in South Texas. On most Mondays and Fridays, you will find Jan at the Greyhound Bus Station where asylum seeking mothers and children are dropped off by ICE after being released from detention centers. She is part of a team that provides travel backpacks, meals and support to these families as they travel to their sponsoring families all over the country.
The HRC Equality Award is given to an individual who works towards equality for all citizens of San Antonio. Jan believes passionately that all of us who work for social justice and a better world believe that all of our issues and struggles and triumphs are all interrelated and that justice for any of us is only achieved when it is justice for all. It is her hope that her life’s work has been a reflection of this belief. One of her most inspiring quotes is from Margaret Mead,
Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.