We will Remember you Pauline Beck!

14183948_1268870866464558_5067662180643256642_nPauline Beck passed away on August 29th, 2016. Pauline was a great person who would do anything for the people she loved. She had an impact on many lives by her generous heart. She was a friend to many and was like a mother to others.

I first met Pauline the day she walked into the 2016 Bernie Sanders office in Council Bluffs, Iowa. From that day forward she was in the office nearly every day. She took care of many of the needs of the office, or she would find someone who could.

14141572_10153641460471923_2098713491313469659_nPauline provided many home cooked meals, cleaned the office, and made many creative decorations. She even made sure we kept our eye on the ball.

Personally, Pauline helped guide me to where I am today. She thought of my health and kept reminding me not to stress and eat good foods. She would remind me how much stress goes into campaigns and how I could do more if I went back to college. I know she would be happy to see where I am today, studying psychology at the University of Iowa.

The following quotes are how Pauline will be remembered by many she had an impact on.

Pauline Beck was the ‘campaign mom’ to our Bernie Sanders offices in both Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska. She spent nearly every single day with us, providing much needed home cooked meals, incredibly creative Bernie decorations (even Bernie cake pops). She kept our office clean and organized, and she kept us all grounded when our personal lives were going up in flames around us, and all we could do was trudge on for the sake of the greater good.

Pauline was our rock. She personally counseled me through an intense break-up, for my diabetes and was always snapping me out of the daily frustrations of running a campaign office, to have some much needed converstation about life and all its quirks.

She will be truly missed by the many lives she touched. Every time she left for the day I called after her ‘I love you, mom! See you tomorrow!’ We all love you mom, rest in peace.

-MacKenzie Ewing

“She made that office [Council Bluss, Bernie Sanders office]. She made it feel like home. She was the first person to talk to anybody, to make sure they felt welcome. She always jumped in to make sure everything was OK. She was a listener and a helper in a world that doesn’t have enough of either.

I don’t think I ever told her how much everyting she did menat to me. I wish I could.

-Leo Atkinson

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The Story of Mika

IV meds post-op transplant. Not many compared to most transplant patients.
IV meds post-op transplant.

I wake up feeling pain and choking on the dryness in my throat. The nurses around me are talking and doing things with my iv lines. I could not understand what. One of them ask me, “Mika, what is your pain level?” I don’t respond, I just groan because I still am fighting the hoarseness and dryness in my throat. I try to swallow the saliva that isn’t there, and fall back asleep.

I wake again hearing someone ask me, “Mika, can you tell me what your pain level is?”

I clear my throat and say, “I feel pain. A lot of pain.”

The person replies, “Yes, what is the pain level? One to ten.”

I reply, “It is a 11.” I then feel someone touching my arm and I fall asleep once again.

Jon and me after our surgeries!
Erika and me after our surgeries!

The next thing I remember is people talking and being in a different room but I was not wearing a mask. Someone in the room was speaking but not towards me. I ask, but to no one in particular, “Water, I need water.”

At one moment of my consciousness before I was fully awake, I turned to my grandmother and weakly said, “No more dialysis.”

I am a bit more conscious and aware, I see that I am in a private patient room with family around. A nurse is trying to talk to me about the surgery, the morphine pump, only being allowed ice, and needing to get up to walk by 10:30pm.

Cystinosis has been a struggle. It has been a challenge for me and those who care about me. Yes, perhaps I’m a survivor. However, I’m living with it every day. There is no break and I have fallen apart from time to time because of it.

When I was a kid, I was always seen as different. Every day, I would got to the nurse’s office to take medications. Many days, I had bad breath and body odor from my medications, and I felt sick to my stomach. This usually ended in me vomiting.

Elementary and middle school were especially difficult for me because of this. Not to forget all of the doctor appointments and hospitalizations I had to go to which caused me to miss a lot of school. Growing up with cystinosis is difficult and quite the journey.

530218_4348259423965_656840845_nCystinosis is not the only thing that defines me. I am more than my diagnosis. I am a progressive democrat, a feminist, a human rights activist, an organizer, and a student. Beyond all of this, I am a human being.

Cystinosis is part of everything. It is with me every day and intersects everything. Because I must take medications every day and I must make sure that I have health insurance no matter where I go to school or work. I even cannot leave for a weekend vacation without packing medications and it is not just a couple, it is twenty-three different medications. Because of them, I am reminded of the disease every several hours.

In 2010, my senior year in high school, I turned 19 and lost my health insurance. In Nebraska, a person becomes a legal adult at age 19 and according to Medicaid rules one must re-apply for insurance. I did just that and was denied. I was told that I was not eligible for coverage for having a pre-existing condition (cystinosis). I tired applying four times with the same results.

While attempting to be a regular high school student and completing my senior year, I needed to figure out how in the world I was going to get health insurance. I needed the insurance to cover all of my medications that kept me alive and keeps the disease at bay.

At this point, I was working at J.C. Penny, but not nearly making enough money to cover private health insurance. Not to forget, I was beginning my process of coming out. And finding my political affiliation as a Democratic Socialist. This caused several other issues or benefits. It really depends on how you look at it.

Many of my friends were talking and laughing about who they were dating, talking about what college they planned to attend, and what classes they would take. No, not me, listening to them talk of these things actually made me feel angry, hurt, and mat at the world and God.

Nonetheless, at some point, I understood that I was seeing the world more clearly. I guess they all may have helped made me stronger in a way. They may have helped make me into the person I am today.

Growing up, I have made sacrifices that I did not want to make. But, I knew that I needed to, so that they would protect me and get things done.

The year 2011 was even more difficult for me to attempt to put cystinosis in a box as just one detail of who I am because my kidneys failed. I would need a kidney transplant or start dialysis. Thus, my doctors put me on hemodialysis. At the time I did not have a kidney donor.

Hemodialysis is a form of kidney dialysis that can be done with a catheter (a plastic tube) placed in the chest into the superior vena cava (a very large vein right above the heart) that is used to cycle blood into a machine that cleans the blood and returns it. I was on this form of dialysis every other day for four hours of the day in a center for about ten months.

I knew that I would need to look for a kidney donor because I could not indefinitely live on dialysis. After a couple months of searching I found one, her name was Erika von Kampen. She was a match and we had the transplant scheduled at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (Nebraska Medicine). Unfortunately, the transplant was unable to happen there and I had to move on.

PD Cycler
PD Cycler

Therefore, in February 2012 I switched to peritoneal dialysis. This form of dialysis uses my own body, the peritoneal membrane in my abdomen as a filter to clear wastes and extra fluid from my body and returns electrolytes.

 

I was on peritoneal dialysis for fifteen months. This form can also be continuous, which I did go to when I had a cycler so that it could cycle the fluid at night while I slept. I was on it from 2012 to May 30, 2013 when I received a kidney transplant at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC).

As I’ve said, cystinosis is only a part of my life. Peritoneal dialysis changed my life to make cystinosis a smaller part of my life. It was like I had some of my freedom again. I was able to follow my passion and fight for what I believe in again. I was able to even become active in politics, I also met many wonderful people including Amber Bordolo a Field Organizer with Organizing for America (OFA).

I was going to college at Iowa Western Community College (IWCC), working on my Associate’s degree in psychology, when Amber invited me to a couple of her events. I finally attended one of them, became friends with her, and she recommended that I apply to become a Summer Fellow (intern) at OFA. Little did I know how big of an impact that was going to have on my life.

398777_10150940759848430_1366498105_nAt the beginning, I worked to organize house parties and other events to get supporters together, fired up and ready to go to work to get the President re-elected. Soon, I moved into a different stage of the campaign where I made many calls to convince voters to support him. Additionally, on the campaign, I had the change to go to Des Moines, Iowa to see the President speak to a crowd of supporter at the Iowa State Fairgrounds where I was able to stand on stage behind President Barack Obama.

It was while I worked with OFA, that I looked into going to the UIHC to get on their transplant list and perhaps have a living donor transplant.

In September of 2012, I went to Iowa City, Iowa for medical tests and evaluations at UIHC Transplant Center to see about being placed on their list. I passed and was placed. Additionally, I went out to find a living donor. This included me sharing my story and health condition with people. Then I sent out packets of information and forms to eight people who were interested. However, only three were returned to the transplant center and one was a match, but had complications and could not donate. I had to make a choice, spend more time sending out packets or see if Erika was still willing to donate her kidney.

I was lucky because Erika was still interested in donating. Once she filled out the forms and they were returned to the transplant center, they immediately scheduled her for an appointment to be evaluated since we already knew she was a very good match. The transplant was scheduled for May 30, 2013, which I dubbed adoption of Serenity because I named the new kidney Serenity.

I am living with full kidney function thanks to Erika and the staff at UIHC. The transplant gave me my life back literally and figuratively. I started the journey to kidney transplant on November 22, 2010 to May 30, 2013. Those were three very long years of two types of dialysis, doctors’ visits, and hospital stays. All I must deal with now is immune-suppressants, cystinosis medications, and fighting to continue to have health insurance.

But, it is still hard. I don’t know what it is like to just live. To live without there being a struggle or some sort of challenge to overcome. Ever since I graduated high school, I have been living from one struggle or challenge to overcome to the next. No time to breath, no time to relax or get comfortable. Or at least the moment I start to relax something new happens, another challenge confronts me. I know how to survive but I do not know how to just live. That is what I am learning.

Photo by Iowa Pride Network
Photo by Iowa Pride Network

Nevertheless, cystinosis and most of the challenges did not halt my endeavors. I wanted to do more and give back to society. This is why I volunteered with Iowa Pride Network and volunteered to be on their College Leadership Team. On the team I organized and ran the Iowa Pride Network’s Southwest Regional Gay-Straight Alliance Coalition. This Coalition was a great way for LGBTQIA youth and students to come together and have a safe space. The Coalition consisted of one meeting a month and the meetings were educationally based to fill the education gap on LGBTQIA studies and issues.

While I was a member of the College Leadership Team, I was a college student at Iowa Western Community College and in the summer of 2012, I had my first taste of political campaigning.

As I spoke about before, I became a Summer Organizer for OFA or the Obama campaign. In that position, I had many responsibilities including working closely with volunteers and talking with Iowa voters. I recruited, managed, and trained volunteers to organize their communities and neighborhoods into teams that registered, persuaded, and motivated voters. I organized my turf (most of Iowa House District 16), I planned and successfully organized on of the largest Equality Nights in Iowa. During that event I lead a discussion on the accomplishments of President Barack Obama and the Democrats for the LGBTQIA community. In addition, I worked to grow neighborhood teams on a grassroots level and managed team leaders.

This was an awesome experience to grow as an adult, learn how to manage several tasks at once and be focused on completing goals. It was quite fun. I loved talking to voters and making connections with them about what is important in their lives and how Democrats can work with them to better their lives.

Ever since getting involved in politics in 2012, I stayed involved because I felt that it was an important endeavor. Therefore, I became more active within the local party and learned more about Iowa politics, my new home. I stayed involved in Nebraska as well, where several Nebraska citizens were interested in fighting for second parent adoption.

It was in the winter of 2012, I worked with these citizens who did not have the ability to secure their families through second parent adoption or join adoption in their own state. After we did extensive research, we began working with Nebraska State Senator Sara Howard (District 9) to introduce a bill in the state legislature.

photo (1)Senator Howard introduced LB380 in February 2013 to correct Nebraska law. I then ran a grassroots campaign for the bill that consisted of an online petition, emails, and calls to State Senators. And I organized postcard making parties in several cities throughout eastern Nebraska, which was sponsored by MoveOn.org. Unfortunately, the bill did die that session, but Sen. Howard continues to fight for families in the state legislature.

While, I was working on the second parent adoption bill, I was the field director of Forward Equality. The organization was formed by several friends of mine including a former professor of mine, and myself. Forward Equality worked on progressive issues ranging from workers’ rights to civil rights (including LGBTQIA). I worked (non-paid) at Forward Equality from April 2010 to April 2014 when it dissolved.

Furthermore, as I said, I continued to be involved in the local Democratic Party. I was elected of the Iowa Democratic Party and severed on the Pottawattamie County Executive Committee as Affirmative Action Chair. I served as Affirmative Action Chair from February 2014 to October 2015.

As the Affirmative Action Chair, I organized the first Affirmative Action Committee in Pottawattamie county for the county Party, where we worked to ensure that our Party was following the Iowa Democratic Party’s rules and regulations on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and their diversity requirements. This included organizing our involvement in several Pottawattamie County events such as Celebrate Council Bluffs and Heartland Pride LGBTQIA Parade and Festival. I assisted in ensuring that the Pottawattamie County 2016 Caucus locations were ADA accessible to the best of our abilities, and we worked to bring those who historically felt unwelcome back into the Party.

Moving forward, I have been involved in the Presidential Democratic primary. I was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. I first met him back in September 2014 at an event he was speaking at in Des Moines. From that moment on I knew that he was a person that I was willing to fight for and put in long hours campaigning for. He was my candidate. But, at that time Sen. Sanders was not running for president, he was only considering it. I then decided that I had work to do. I volunteered with the Run Bernie Run campaign to get Sen. Sanders to run for president and as a Democrat and I did that for a couple of months by sharing word about Sen. Sanders and sharing a petition for him.

On May 26, 2015, Sen. Bernie Sanders surprised many people including myself by announcing that he was indeed running for president and that he was going to run as a Democrat. I knew at that moment that I had to find out how I can help him out in Council Bluffs. However, I was still the Affirmative Action chair for the Pottawattamie County Democrats and so it made my choice to throw my full public support behind Sen. Sanders.

The choice was thrust upon me the last week of June when I was called by the Bernie Sanders campaign asking me if I could introduce Sen. Sanders at their town hall in Council Bluffs on July 3, 2015. I felt overwhelmed with excitement and terror. I have never spoken publicly to over 2,000 people. Thus, my first response to the staffer who called me was give me some time to think about it. I said this even though in my heart it was screaming go and do this

11695825_10204817824588262_1182260142788144659_nOn July 3, 2015, I gave one of the first speeches kicking off the Bernie Sanders campaign in Iowa. I introduced Sen. Sanders in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I was so nervous but I did my job and did it well for Bernie. That day forward, I began my volunteering for Sen. Sanders. I volunteered on his campaign for months until December when I was hired as an Organizing Fellow for the campaign. I was officially on the Bernie Sanders campaign payroll.

I was an Organizing Fellow for two months before I was promoted Field Organizer. In that position I recruited, managed and trained volunteers, and I built and managed several volunteer canvass and phone banks.

1240631_10208286387655555_8846839057021492748_nWhile on the campaign I worked in Nebraska on their caucus. There my turf included Lincoln but I also knew people in three other counties so I organized them as well. Two of the three counties went for Bernie. After the Nebraska caucuses, I was sent back to Iowa to work on our County Conventions making sure Bernie got a fair representation by having all of his delegates show up.

Left: Michael Moore Center: Mika Covington Right: Annaleah Moore
Left: Michael Moore Center: Mika Covington Right: Annaleah Moore

Between working on the Iowa Conventions, I was sent to Kansas to help organize the campaigns’ participation at their state’s District conventions. When I was finished in Kansas I went back Iowa to continue to work. Nonetheless, I was sent to Colorado to assist with organizing for their State Convention. There I called to invite people to the convention, organized carpools, and at the convention I helped in several ways including monitoring the official ballots and observing the counting of the ballots. I worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders as a Field Organizer from February of 2015 to May 3rd of this year.

Today, I am living my life, I am out and open about who I am. This is who I am, a human being who has a lot of passion to make this world a better place for all. I am a human being who lives with cystinosis and who is a transgender woman. I am a woman, a sexual assault survivor, a Democrat, a human rights activist, a feminist, a student, and a fighter.

This is my story and it continues. Cystinosis will not win.

Voting for Hillary

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the Des Moines Youth Summit, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, at Creative Visions in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the Des Moines Youth Summit, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, at Creative Visions in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

After nearly 29 million Americans voted in the Democratic primaries and the 13 million who voted for Senator Bernie Sanders we have a presumptive nominee for President, Hillary Clinton.

Senator Sanders won primaries and caucuses in 22 states with almost 1,900 delegates. Hillary Clinton will go into the convention with 389 more pledged delegates and many more superdelegates.

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As a Bernie Sanders volunteer and former staffer it was an honor to work for the Senator, and the political revolution. Together, we began a revolution to transform American politics and that revolution continues into the Democratic National Convention and beyond.

Untitl36edWe fought and continue to fight for a government that works and represents us all, not just the one percent. We fought and are fighting to change our Party to make it more progressive, inclusive, and welcoming.

Yes, Bernie Sanders did not win the Democratic Party’s nomination for President, nonetheless, we made progress in working with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to produce the most progressive platform in the history of the Party.

hillary-clinton-01-800Now, our job is to ensure the platform is implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House, and a Hillary Clinton president.

We have an opportunity to come together as a Party and work toward victory over hate and divisiveness. I cannot stress enough that this election is one of the most important elections of our and perhaps my lifetime. There is so much at stake with a Donald Trump president.

The time to come together is now.

As Democrats, we believe that we are stronger together, when we work together to get things done, and fight together to win elections.

As Bernie Sanders said during his endorsement of Hillary Clinton,

This election must be about bringing our people together, not dividing us up. While Donald Trump is busy insulting Mexicans, Muslims, woman, African Americans, and veterans, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths.

If you think that this election is not important just take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump will nominate, what that will mean to our civil liberties, equal rights, and health care access.

This election has been about the issues and it continues to be about them. Bernie campaigned for universal health care. Now, as Bernie said,

Hillary Clinton wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their health care exchange, which will lower the cost of health care.

But what is Donald Trump’s position? Well, he wants to do the same thing that every other Republican in Congress wants, to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and throw 20 million people off their health insurance. He also wants to cut Medicaid.

The last thing we need today in America is a president who doesn’t care about whether millions will lose access to the health care coverage that they desperately need. We need more people with access to quality health care, not fewer – Bernie Sanders

I have many disagreements with Hillary Clinton and now I disagree with her choice for Vice-President. Nevertheless, I am supporting Hillary Clinton for president. I hope that you will too because we cannot let there be a chance of a Donald Trump president.

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Source: The Hill

Let’s Send Young Home! Vote for Mowrer!

Mowrer1stfront-700x549Jim Mowrer grew up on a family farm in central Iowa where he learned the value of hard work. At an early age his father was killed in a farming accident. However, because of services such as social security survivor benefits his family was able to stay afloat. It is because of this experience that formed his outlook and ideology and why Jim is a Democrat.

Jim’s campaign is about service to the people of Iowa and our nation. He spent twenty-three (23) months in Iraq and returned home to work with Vice-President Joe Biden as his veteran’s director, and in 2010 President Barack Obama appointed him to a position in the Congress. Jim is running because it is time that our government works for everyone, not for special interests and Washington insiders.

13524285_1037914256278125_2520801223773905406_nI support Jim Mowrer for Congress and David Young for retirement. Let’s get a solid Democrat in Congress to represent the people of Congressional District 3.

Visit Jim’s website to sign up for information and to volunteer to turn CD3 blue again! Here: http://jimforiowa.com/

Jim on the Issues
Jobs and Economy:

Republicans are out of touch with Americans. Rather than help make college more affordable they hand out money to Wall Street corporations and Big Oil.

Jim believes it is time Congress prioritized people in the economy instead of corporations. He will do just that by working to rein in tax loopholes for corporations and reinstate Glass Steagall to prevent too big to fail banks from destroying the economy again.

Jim knows that parents have to choose too often between caring for a sick child and supporting hard work instead of punishing it, reduce the growing threat of vast income inequality, and rebuild our middle class.

Veterans and Service members:

Jim will make sure that we protect and continue to expand programs to help train veterans for jobs when they come back home and make sure that they are highly qualified to enter the workforce.

Social security and medicare:

While Republicans in Congress continue to say that we don’t have the money to fund Social Security, Jim supports lifting the cap on contributions to reach full funding of Social Security.

Jim supports using the power of the federal government to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs for Medicare – just like we do for the VA.

Environment:

Jim understands that climate change is one of the biggest threats to both our National Security and Iowa’s economy.

Jim’s Plan to Combat Climate Change:

  • Support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan
  • Restore the tax credit for wind energy to its full amount.
  • End tax breaks for Big Oil
  • Protect and strengthen the Clean Air Act from attacks by Republicans

Visit Jim’s website to sign up for information and to volunteer to turn CD3 blue again! Here: http://jimforiowa.com/

Fighting the Govt. for Health Insurance

20160412_114409I am 25 years old and I live with cystinosis. Cystinosis has been a struggle. I live with it every day and many days I do look ‘normal’ and healthy. My illness is not usually visible on the outside to most people.

Living with cystinosis has been a challenged for me and those who care about me. It is such a challenge because of my continued fight to either have health insurance or keep my health insurance. It is so difficult on those who care about me because they see the emotional toll the fight has had on me, and how close I get to giving up sometimes. This seems like a never ending fight with the government to have health insurance, the insurance companies themselves, and the pharmacies. Living with this orphan disease is more than just living with a disease, it effects all aspects of your life.

I was diagnosed with cystinosis around the age of 10 months old. Cystinosis is a rare orphan disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells, it slowly damages organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, lungs, muscles, and brain. An orphan disease is a disease that has no been “adopted” by the pharmaceutical industry because it provides little financial incentive for the private sector to make and market new medications to treat it.

In 2010, my senior year in high school, is when the fight with the government begun. I turned 19 and lost my health insurance. I lost the health insurance because in Nebraska you are an adult at age 19 and must re-apply for Medicaid. After applying four times I kept getting the same result, that I was not eligible for coverage for having a pre-existing condition, the cystinosis. This resulted in me having no health insurance for nearly eight months and led to me going into end stage renal or kidney failure. I went from needing a kidney transplant in 2-4 years to needing one in six months to a year.

I was on dialysis for almost three years. I started dialysis in May 2011, when I was a patient at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) or Nebraska Medical Center (now: Nebraska Medicine) being evaluated for a kidney transplant.

At the beginning I was on hemodialysis, a form of dialysis that is performed with a catheter placed surgically in the chest that is used as an access to cycle large amounts of blood and returns it to the body. Fortunately, I was only on this form of dialysis for nine long months. Until I switched to peritoneal dialysis.

In March of 2012, I started peritoneal dialysis. I switched because I was denied a kidney transplant at the Nebraska Medical Center from my living donor and would need to be on dialysis much longer, additionally hemodialysis was not working out for me.

Peritoneal dialysis is performed using a catheter that is surgically placed in your abdomen that cycles a dextrose mixture fluid into your peritoneal cavity that uses the wall of the cavity as a natural dialyzes that cleans the blood.

downloadToday, I am again fighting the government for healthcare. I was told that I am no longer disabled and that all of my Social Security benefits will end on the last day of July this includes Medicare coverage. i am on my second appeal of their decision. This has taken a lot of me as well.

If I lose the health insurance this will be a very bad thing. I will not be able to have access to most of my medications including my anti-rejection and cystinosis medications. Without the anti-rejection medications my transplanted kidney could start rejecting within a week and I would need to be hospitalized, and I could lose the kidney.