All Mamas Matter

Forward Together
and the CA- Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Invite You To:

All Mamas Matter

A Different Kind of Mother's Day Celebration

Saturday May 4th 6:30pm
  Nile Hall in Preservation Park 
   1233 Preservation Park Way 
Oakland, CA

               Join in an evening of testimony, song, and community honoring all  
                             the kinds of mamahoods that shape our lives.

The CA Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Forward Together invite all those committed to making justice, compassion, and dignity a lived reality for all kinds of mamas and families to participate in this service. We will listen to testimony of social justice movement leaders, activists, and advocates and honor the complicated and diverse realities of mamahoods and motherhoods today.

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Samara Azam-Yu is the Executive Director of ACCESS Women's Health Justice and an MBA candidate at Mills College in Oakland, CA.  She has a background in nonprofit, public policy, education, and personal finance. She has worked in the California State Assembly, with Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, with the California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, with Aspire Public Schools, and in the personal finance sector.  She lives in East Oakland with her partner, daughter, and two chickens.

Sylvia Lopez is a member leader of Muejeres Unidas y Activas, who currently 
serves as our East Bay Organizing Intern and formerly served as the president
 of our Board of Directors. Sylvia has been a domestic worker for over 15 years 
and is also a survivor of domestic violence. After years of abuse in the workplace and seeing her rights as an immigrant violated, Sylvia found her voice speaking out for immigrant women. She has shared her testimony on the local, state and national level and commits her time to educating and organizing with women in her community to stand up for their rights.  Sylvia is the proud mother of 2 daughters, Karina and Daniela, both of whom are also active in MUA.

Sheila Desai has spent the last several years advocating for reproductive health and justice across parts of the U.S. and South Asia. She currently works with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH)—an Oakland-based research group—to increase access to abortion care in California. Sheila grew up in New York, where much of her family still lives.

Rabbi Elliot Kukla is a rabbi at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco providing spiritual care to those struggling with illness, grieving or dying where he also directs the Healing Center’s Kol HaNeshama: Jewish End of Life Care volunteer hospice program. His articles are published in numerous magazines (including in the CCAR Journal, Shm’a, Lillith, and Zeek) and anthologized widely (including in Torah Queeries: NYU Press 2010; The passionate Torah: NYU Press 2011; Righteous Indignation: Jewish Lights, 2009; Balancing on the Mechitzah: North Atlantic Books 2010). Elliot has lectured on Jewish perspectives on gender and sexual diversity across the US and Canada. His liturgy appears in numerous prayer books and rabbinic manuals and he is a contributor and editorial board member for the Reform Movement’s Mishkan Refuah, a prayer book for health and healing.  He also has served as adjunct faculty in pastoral care at Starr King School for the Ministry (a part of the Graduate Theological Seminary of UC Berkeley.) Elliot was ordained by Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles in 2006 and trained in chaplaincy at UCSF Medical Center in 2007.

Sheri Costa is a youth and criminal justice activist and founder of A. L. Costa Community Development Center, a regional non-profit organization that over the past twelve years has effectively impacted and improved the lives of at-risk young people and their families by placing re-entry individuals into trade careers and providing supportive services and mentoring.  She is the mother of 3 children, a granddaughter and is from Union City.   
In addition to her work with the A. L. Costa Community Development Center, Sheri has been a leader in Congregations Organizing for Renewal/PICO Network and a part of the Youth Violence Prevention Coalition in Union City.  Sheri co-founded Families for Youth Rights, a group of parents and community members fighting for youth injustice. She has presented workshops on police abuse and gangs for a Copwatch National Training Event and reported to California lawmakers on the successes of the “Missouri Model” in using small therapeutic centers focused on youth rehabilitation instead of sending young people to youth prisons.  Sheri’s work on the Books Not Bars campaign, which called for the closure of the California’s youth prisons and their replacement with regional rehabilitation centers, resulted in the downsizing of the California youth prison system and resource reallocation toward local county systems. In 2006 due to her continued work in the community, Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center presented Sheri with an award in recognition of her commitment to improving the health and well-being of adolescents in South County.

Service Led By:
Darcy Baxter, Unitarian Universalist Minister and Regional Organizer for CA Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

What will the service be like? What can you expect? Check out this sample:

Honoring 40 Years of Roe v. Wade


On January 20, 2013, over 100 people gathered for an evening of testimony, song, and community in Oakland, CA.  We honored the nuanced, messy, and imperfect legacies of justice during these forty years of Roe v Wade in an event we called Honoring the Legacies of Justice.

Participants were "inspired," "moved," and "touched," by the "beauty," "courage," and "power" of the service as a whole and by the testimonies in particular.  We also raised over $450 dollars for Access Women's Health Justice. 

Inspired and energized by the success of the January service, the California Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, in partnership with Forward Together and their Strong Families campaign,  is planning another service we are calling "All Mamas Matter: A Different Kind of Mother's Day" service.  

Our goal is to create a grounded, honest, authentic, and ultimately uplifting experience that honors the many ways we mother--especially mamahoods we usually do not see on Mother’s Day greeting cards. This service will honor Mama's Day Our Way. We want to celebrate all the mundane labor that it took and still takes to make dignity and justice a lived experience for all people and families.  Molded from the clay of progressive and justice-seeking faith traditions, particularly Unitarian-Universalism, the service will resonate with those who identify as spiritual, progressive-religious, agnostic, and atheist. 

From the mamas giving birth to the aunties raising up the children on the block, we will honor all the pain, joy, sorrow, and promise of mamahood. And we will see where such and experience takes us in our journey to create justice, compassion and dignity in this world.

Leadership Team:

Rev. Darcy Baxter is a reproductive justice activist and local Unitarian Universalist minister serving a congregation in Hayward, CA.  Darcy also serves as a Regional Organizer for the CA Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and is a member of the Center for American Progress' Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute.  You can read more about her work at

Dana Ginn-Paredes  has worked for social justice organizations for over 12 years as a field organizer, trainer, national program director, organizing director, and training director. Her previous work to promote racial equity and healthy families within welfare policy led her to develop a strong interest in reproductive justice issues for women, youth, and communities of color. Since joining Forward Together in 2003, she has directed research to advance comprehensive sex

education policy for California public schools, led electoral campaigns that advance reproductive justice, and initiated and overseen the development of Forward Together's current youth and worker organizing projects and climate change initiative. Dana was a 2008 fellow in the National APAWLI Signature Program of the Center for Asian Pacific American Women, a 2008 participant of the CLEAR Executive Training Program of the Communications Leadership Institute, and a 2007 fellow of the Women's Policy Institute. She also serves on the steering committee for the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, and holds a BS in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

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