In the months following the 2016 election, millions of people across the country began to protest the new administration’s policies. During the height of the nationwide Muslim-ban protests, a group of less than a dozen gathered in the snow at their courthouse in rural, conservative Westmoreland County. A few in this small but determined group exchanged contact information, not knowing that this encounter would be the beginning of the grassroots community group that became Voice of Westmoreland.
This small group, comprised of nurses, a homemaker, a lawyer, and a teacher, began to meet each week to study how they could turn these small protests into a movement capable of creating real and lasting change in their community. They listened to webinars and read about the history of organizing and movements that had changed the world. They were determined to build something that would be sustainable and not fade away when the nationwide anger and protests subsided.
From these simple beginnings Voice of Westmoreland began to grow in numbers and in purpose. They began to meet more and more people from their county who were also afraid of losing their healthcare, afraid of the lack of environmental protections in their county, and outraged by the racial injustice in their community. They grew in numbers to the point that when there was a special election for Congressional District 17, VOW was able to knock thousands of doors and made a significant impact with their grassroots canvassing.
Today Voice of Westmoreland has had over 1,300 people take an action with them. They grew too big to be run entirely by volunteers anymore. In order to remain sustainable and continue to grow, VOW conducted a membership drive to hire a full-time organizer. Over 200 people became dues-paying members and VOW’s first organizer was hired in November 2019. Now they know that the most important election of our lifetime is before us. VOW is committed to doing everything necessary to prevent the re-election of our current president.