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Mary Ellen Meckley, BVM Works with Senior Caucus to Increase In-home Care

Mary Ellen Meckley, BVM (near the center wearing a green hat) rallies with the Jane Addams Senior Caucus Care Collective Team at a #RaiseUpIL action.

BVM Mary Ellen (Davidette) Meckley so strongly believes that “people need homecare” that she stands up and speaks out to increase services.

She is a board member of Chicago’s Jane Addams Senior Caucus, which successfully lobbied the Illinois legislature to close tax loopholes for big corporations and the wealthy and secure funding to expand a community care program so seniors can stay at home.

Partnering with the Raise Up Illinois coalition, Mary Ellen joined caucus members who rallied and made phone calls on the 2022 Illinois budget.

Their efforts resulted in closing $655 million in loopholes through one of the bills the coalition proposed. It also helped win $59 million for a Community Care Program that supports seniors in their homes and $15 an hour minimum wage for workers.

With rising costs and an aging population, in-home care is much more economical. A stable and well-paid homecare workforce provides quality care and a just income for workers.

But more importantly, from her 38 years as a social worker, Mary Ellen knows people need help with cooking, cleaning, bathing, and errands to be able to stay home.

“Our Care Collective team that is part of Jane Addams Senior Caucus works to shift away from institutionalization towards community centered care so seniors can age with dignity in their homes and communities,” says Becky Ozaki, healthcare and economic justice organizer for the caucus.

The caucus is a multi-racial, grassroots community organization of 500 senior citizens in Chicago.

The diversity of the group is one of the reasons Mary Ellen joined three years ago and is a board member. “I want to be with those who are affected by the issues,” she says.

Respect for the caucus facilitates scheduling meetings with city, state, and national elected leaders, Mary Ellen says.

A resolution calling for increased access to long-term in-home care passed the Chicago City Council after caucus members, in groups of three, met with each alderperson to secure support.

“They could relate,” Mary Ellen says, because most people have relatives who need such help to remain independent.

A caucus plan to move on to state legislators to secure support for a similar resolution was delayed by COVID-19, but is back on track now.

The caucus uses leadership development, organizing, education, and its collective voice to work for economic, social, and racial justice for all seniors. Some members work to increase safety in senior citizen housing and nursing homes, and others lobby for Medicare For All.

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