Category Archives: Grass Roots Activist Groups

Reality for Some Syrian Refugees

In January, my sister, Tama Adelman, a nurse, left for Lesbos, Greece, to work with four colleagues on a medical team for the Syrian Refugees. She joined Valerie Hellerman, director of Hands On Global.

The trip began with a Toothbrush & Underwear campaign in Napa, the key items that were requested by the organization, Refugee4refugees.

Napans donated 1,197 toothbrushes and 1,105 underwear sets. Lufthansa Airlines offered to take these donations, thus saving funds that could be donated directly to the refugees. Below is their story told by Tamra and Valerie in emails from Lesbos.

Initial Impressions

We learned a lot our first day here, so much to unravel ahead to understand the complexity of it all. We visited the local police station to register, and met up with Omar Alshakal in the morning to drive to Skila, cozy little old town in the north of the island.

Omar is a 23-year-old who swam from Turkey to Greece, made it to Germany and returned here to form the NGO Refugee4refugees. He works tirelessly. Our discussions with him clarified the situation and its dangers.

The Moira camp has more than 7,000 people and was built for 2,500. We drop off our bags of donations. They thank us profusely. Stuff has been brought in from all over the world. Between 150 and 200 people are seen in a day to get clothes. They have learned to keep it very controlled. When they began it was complete chaos; now it is controlled chaos.

The boat spotters are up on the hill with binoculars looking for boats, often overloaded with refugees. If they see boats, a cascade of events kick in. Talk about cold: two people on the hill, take shifts, waiting and watching 24/7. One team was from Ireland and another from California. When the boats come, the medical team does on-site triaging for medical issues. When the new arrivals are stabilized, they are then taken elsewhere.

The sea is turbulent, and it is cold — no snow but chilling weather. Boats are not coming now, so we are going to work outside the camp where the overflow is housed. Outside the camp are hundreds of small summer tents with 10-15 people, families, living in them. People are camping in the olive groves. No one has belongings.

These refugees have fallen through every crack in the universe. They have nothing. They have nowhere to go. There is a huge tent, bigger than a banquet tent that houses the Africans. They are trapped. For more than three years, 150 people have been living in this tent.

There are ethnic clusters; Iraqis, Iranian, Kurds, Afghanis, and Syrian. Omar was going to set up a medical tent for us, but he is concerned about our safety. He thought many hundreds of people could show up, and if they think they are not going to be seen or get medicines, there could be a riot.

We are discussing how to see patients. We think we may go tent to tent with backpacks of medicines and our trauma bag, carry what we need and refill from the van. Two team members, Karen and Brian, will do physio and massage together but we are meeting with “docmobile” and may work with them in their mobile van. That would be best. We have discussed safety awareness and agreed to a meeting place if we get separated or there is any unrest.

We are also talking about protecting our hearts so we can do this work. It is really devastating to see this end of the human spectrum. Who are these refugees? I hope we get to hear some of their stories. What happens when your world disintegrates? It is a much more dangerous situation then we imagined.

I am having some waves of fatigue. Too much to process and too much work to do to get caught up in the process. We will do what we can. We all have recommitted to this. Our situational awareness is heightened and our hearts are open. We are in an apartment in Mytiliene and will look for a house to rent in the hills, 15 minutes from the camp.

Our first world problem is it is almost 10 p.m. and there is no milk for morning coffee.

After initial impressions

It is hard to articulate the scope of emotional reaction. Keeping ones heart open without feeling over whelmed is a challenge. Thank goodness for yoga breathing as a centering tool.

People tend to cluster by ethnic groups — people from every country in the region. Even in a desperate situation, there is discrimination.

We are trying to stay connected but it is hard. Trying to practice staying in heart mode, but this is a challenge for me.

We met up with Omar this morning, and he took us to see the Happy Family project. WOW is a great non-governmental organization, based in Switzerland. They are trying to provide some normalcy to the refugees. They provide meals for up to 800 a day, as well as a gym, a toddler play space, coffee and tea, a place to play games, a barber, tailor, and legal clinic. The German medical NGO, Docmobile, has a clinic space there. They are treating sometimes 150 people a day out of a three-room shed turned into a clinic

I also met Sherif, a Syrian from the UK running a food project called Sultana. They drove a full-size luxury bus converted into a food kitchen from the UK to Greece. It feeds a hot meal to 300-400 people three days a week. He said they could feed more, but need more funds and volunteers. Today, he was cooking cauliflower, potatoes, rice and tomato pasta. Smelled wonderful.

The Moira camp has no hot food program and distributes what looks like military rations. The people say the food is terrible, so this hot delicious food is coveted, hence the registration system. One hundred and fifty people were served today. Many of them got new underwear or a toasty fleece. Today was really cold.

By noon we were outside the Moira camp and did what I can only describe as gorilla medicine. We started with a tent visit to see an Iraqi man with a leg injury; it was bad. We undressed his wound and there was an obvious bone infection. Mark Ibsen, the MD, kept asking the translator ask him how this happened. The man kept saying, kaliznakoff, a Russian gun. That explained the holes in his leg. He also complained about the soles of his feet. We found out that he was tortured in an Iraqi prison and the soles of his feet were beaten.

It took only minutes for the word to be out that there was a doctor. Several men came into the tent and people were standing outside. We decided the safest way to work was out of the van. We folded up the back seats to use as a counter. Tama did the pharmacy from the middle seat, Karen was tasked with finding and delivering supplies. I triaged and Mark saw patients by the back door of the van. Brian kept the van running for a bit of heat and primarily for our safety so if there was any unrest we could just jump in, close the doors and leave.

It seemed fine, though, today. People were grateful. But we heard stories; so many of these people have suffered unimaginable physical and mental abuses. There is so much PTSD. The greatest unmet medical need is for mental health. Some people have just gone crazy. We saw 28 patients, and then the crowd was getting too big, and the wind was blowing really cold. We gave out index cards with numbers and promised to return tomorrow.

We ended our gorilla clinic and did one more tent call. A 26-year-old Syrian man had a pneumonia and both ears were infected. He lives in a summer tent with 13 other people, sleeping on the floor in a light weight sleeping bag. I looked around the tent — such meager possessions, only day packs, half empty. Mark gave the man antibiotics, and I gave him a liter of water.

There are more than 65 million refugees in the world. The UNHCR camp is unmanageably bleak and surrounded by high wire fences. Women, children and families in metal boxes with only two showers.

Toilets overflowing, just horrible conditions. There are portable toilets. No lights. The only heat is in tin cans with wood, but not many of them. No hot food. Mud everywhere. Medicines Without Borders has a tent outside the camp where they are working with kids and pregnant women. They are overwhelmed. We will visit with them today. It just seems there is not enough of anything. People have to queue up for food, medical care, clothing, and not everyone gets what they need. They have to wait several days for anything. That is where the danger lies. People are desperate.

Finally back in the comfort of our BnB, we discuss the logistics of our gorilla medicine. We were finding the rhythm. We are ready to do it again.

Day 3: Stories

We decided to limit our visit and saw 40 patients. Karen was able to do some massage for those injured by bombs. Scabies is rampant. A few had infected throats and some pneumonia. Kids with ear infections. We heard more stories today.

A man from Iraq who suffered injuries from a bomb had head, neck and back trauma. He had major PTSD. Karen did some massage work with him but he could barely tolerate touch. He said his wife and child were in the camp but he was not with them because he had lost his mind and hurt them. He was ashamed. He felt very sad.

Mental health issues are huge here and not being addressed. Many refugees say they cannot sleep and have terrible nightmares. Their reality is a nightmare with no solution in sight. They have hopes of getting through the bureaucratic maze to start their lives again, but that dream becomes more of a nightmare. Desperation replaces the relief of survival.

We met a man from Cameroon who was a rap singer. His parents were murdered, and he had to flee the country. Somehow he got on a plane to Iraq and then walked overland for 30 days to Turkey. There he was beaten so badly by Turkish police, it left him walking with crutches for more than a year.

Brian, our team member, spent some time with this man as they spoke French together. Brian went to the African tent with him. Appalling. There are cages, like large dog kennels, that people cover with blankets and sleep inside. I just cannot understand this inhumane treatment. There is no shower in this overflow camp, and some people said they had not showered for months. Omar’s Refugee4refugees warehouse gives them clean clothes, but the scabies stay with them.

There were some really touching moments. A Syrian man asked us where we were from, asked us if we were being paid, and when we said, “We are from America and we are volunteers,” he was so surprised. He said, “You came here for helping us? You bring us this medicine?” He thanked us profusely.

Today was a good day. A few Syrian men sang to me. I could breathe today.

We left, restocked for tomorrow and went to a medicinal hot spring about 10 minutes from the camp. Our privilege allowed this escape. We decided we will bring some of the men with PTSD to the hot spring as a treatment, to relieve stress. We agonized over doing this for only a few; we cannot do it for all.

Caring for these refugees takes so much. The United Nations has set up the camp but the smaller NGOs, and there are many here, have to pick up the slack. There is so much slack. There are volunteers from all over, mostly Europeans, who are furious at the EU for not stepping up. We also met some Brazilians.

Many of the volunteers come for several months and many have returned. That is a tribute to our humanity. There are people stepping up from all over the world. What about our governments? Greece should be held in the highest esteem for their sympathy. but they are overwhelmed. Their economy has tanked, they grant asylum but there are no jobs. We will do some work in Athens and will see the next stage. My current understanding is that after months or years at the camp, some are granted asylum and are moved to old apartments or hotels in Athens.

Meanwhile we are preparing for tomorrow.

Tama and Valerie are back from and will be talking about their experiences on Wednesday, March 21, in Napa. To attend, email for details.

To learn more about the project or to make donations, visit

This post copied from Napa Valley Register.

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Make Calls for Lauren Underwood – March 20th Primary

So let’s get her nominated as the Democratic nominee.

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March 14th: #ENOUGH! National School Walkout

The Women’s March’s Youth EMPOWER group is planning a national school walkout on March 14, 2018, according to the group’s website. At 10 a.m. in every time zone, organizers are encouraging teachers, students, administrators, parents and allies to walk out for 17 minutes — one for every person killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Locate an action near you.

#Enough, #BastaIn Napa, school leaders are finding a variety of ways to honor the Florida students. Both Napa High School and Vintage High School are planning 17-minute observances on campus Wednesday.

Napa High will be holding a Remembrance ceremony at 10 a.m. in the quad to show empathy and let the victims’ families and friends know that there are people everywhere who are listening and who want to make a change.

Vintage High School is planning its own 17-minute observance on campus.

Justin-Siena High School announced it would hold a “walk-to” event honoring Parkland survivors and their families on the morning of the walkout campaign. Students at the private Catholic academy will leave their classrooms on Maher Street and walk to a “well-planned event” to be organized with help from the school’s student leadership team.

Blue Oak School, school directors are organizing a 17-minute observance nearby at Jefferson and Hayes streets, where junior high students will hold up signs supporting survivors of the Parkland attack.

Stone Bridge School will also have a ceremony.

St. Helena High School, the new “Students for Change” club is planning student walk-out for 17 minutes.

More information found at Napa Valley Register.

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March 24th: Gun Violence Town Hall and Student Rally and Benefit Concert

Para español: por favor vea abajo

March 24th
#MarchforOurLives Events

District Auditorium
Jefferson and Lincoln Avenues
Napa, California

Napa Gun Violence Prevention and School Safety Town Hall 

Napa Student Rally and Benefit Concert For Our Lives

9am – 11am: Town Hall

In response to the shootings at the Yountville Veterans Home,
Jefferson Starbucks and West Park shootings in January, the Parkland Florida School shooting on Valentine’s Day and the countless school and non-school shootings that occur daily in every corner of the country, please join Representative Mike Thompson, Griffin Dix of the Brady Campaign and Napan Jane Williams, both of whom lost children to gun violence, students, local law enforcement, mental health and other officials at a Town Hall to hear about ideas for next steps on solving the gun violence epidemic. Hosted by a group of concerned Napa parents, Women’s March Napa Valley and the League of Women Voters of Napa County, this Town Hall seeks to engage and challenge local, state and federal officials to exhibit leadership on issues vital to student safety, public health and community well being.

11am – 1pm:   Rally and Concert

After the Town Hall, Napa Students will lead a Rally and Benefit Concert to support the “March for Our Lives” protest in Washington, D.C.  Students from Napa High, Vintage, Justin Sienna, New Technology, and American Canyon High School will perform and speak on gun violence prevention and school safety issues of concern to them.  Attendees are encouraged to wear orange as a symbol of their support for the national effort and donate to the national “March for Our Lives” campaign.  Bring a blanket, signs and your friends and enjoy the “Napa Student Rally and Benefit Concert for our Lives.”

Parking is along Jefferson, along Lincoln in the District Auditorium lot and in the main lot at Napa High. Please pack in and pack out all trash and recyclables. [Event will be held rain or shine.]



Marcha por Nuestras Vidas ~Marcha de la Mujer Napa Valley

Valle de Napa. Únanse a nosotros en una
Reunión de Ayuntamiento, & 
 Manifestation por Nuestras Vidas

24 de Marzo, 2018
Auditorio del Distrito
Avenidas Jefferson y Lincoln

Prevención de Violencia Armada y Seguridad de Escuelas de Napa

Reunión de Estudiantes de Napa y Concierto a Beneficio de Nuestras Vidas

9-11AM Reunión de Ayuntamiento
En respuesta a los tiroteos de la casa de los veteranos, West Park y Starbucks de la Avenida Jefferson en nuestra comunidad en 2018, el tiroteo de la Escuela Parkland de la Florida en el Día de San Valentín y los innumerables tiroteos escolares y no escolares que ocurren a diario en cada rincón del país, únanse con Representante Mike Thompson, Griffin Dix de la Campaña Brady y Jane Williams de Napa (ambos de los cuales perdieron niños por violencia con armas de fuego) estudiantes, agencias locales policiacas, salud mental y otros funcionarios en un reunión de ayuntamiento para escuchar ideas sobre los próximos pasos para resolver la epidemia de violencia con armas de fuego.
Organizado por un grupo de padres preocupados de Napa, Marcha de Mujeres y la Liga de Mujeres Votantes del Valle de Napa, esta reunión de ayuntamiento busca comprometer y desafiar a los funcionarios locales, estatales y federales para que muestren liderazgo en cuestiones vitales para la seguridad de los estudiantes, la salud pública y el bienestar de la comunidad.
11AM-1PM Manifestation de Estudiantes y Concierto
Después de la reunión, los estudiantes de Napa dirigirán un concierto, manifestación y beneficio para apoyar la protesta “Marcha por Nuestras Vidas” en Washington, DC. Los estudiantes de Napa, Vintage, Justin Sienna, New Technology y American Canyon High School actuarán y hablarán sobre prevención de violencia con armas de fuego y asuntos de seguridad escolar que les preocupan. Se alienta a los que asistan de usar el color naranja como símbolo de su apoyo al esfuerzo nacional y donar a la campaña nacional “Marcha por Nuestras Vidas”. Traiga una cobija, letreros y sus amigos y disfrute de la “Manifestación estudiantil de Napa y el concierto benéfico para nuestras vidas”.
El estacionamiento está a lo largo de Jefferson, a lo largo de Lincoln en el lote del auditorio del distrito y en el estacionamiento principal de Napa High. Por favor, junte toda su basura y reciclables.
[Evento se llevará al cabo si llueve.]

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JOIN Sacramento Indivisible Regional Action Network, and lots of other action groups in protest of the Attorney General and director of the DOJ, Jeff Sessions, appearance and “announcement about sanctuary cities” tomorrow at a law enforcement conference.

At the Kimpton Sawyer 500 J St, Sacramento, CA 95814

He is scheduled to speak at 8:05am so please arrive between 7am & 8am, as he’ll likely be there early.

“U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make a “major sanctuary jurisdiction announcement” in Sacramento on Wednesday, just blocks from the state Capitol where legislative Democrats and California Gov. Jerry Brown passed a “sanctuary state” law last year.

The Department of Justice announced Sessions will attend the annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day hosted by the California Peace Officers Association and several other groups. He is scheduled to speak at the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel — the new hotel next to the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento — at 8:05 a.m.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has been among the most vocal critics of Sessions and President Trump’s immigration enforcement actions and has warned businesses not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities without a warrant, is also scheduled to speak.

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Be a Part of EARTH DAY Napa 2018

Earth Day Napa brings our community together to celebrate, honor and protect nature and Mother Earth. This event is also a fundraiser to support a bus grant program for environmental education field trips and scholarships for graduating high school students pursing studies in the field of environmental studies.

This event is hosted by Earth Day Napa and Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County.

There are numerous opportunities to get involved to help make Earth Day a success and to be part of the ongoing efforts to protect and honor mother earth.  For EARTH DAY, there are opportunities to volunteer, exhibit, become a sponsor or donate to make the day a big success.

The Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County (EECNC) is a non-profit which connects members of our community with the local environment. Through a network of local organizations, EECNC provides resources and support to promote sustainable living and to cultivate an appreciation of the natural world.

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ACLU Webinar Online Training – Learn About Rapid Response Network

ACLU of Northern California is partnering with  North Bay Rapid Response Network – Sonoma and Napa Counties and other networks by hosting online webinars to introduce people to rapid response work, and referring volunteers to our networks.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has threatened large scale immigration raids across California communities. A recent video captured in Southern California shows just how violent and unlawful these raids can be: ICE officers, carrying assault weapons, storm into places of business or personal homes, often without a warrant, detaining people without probable cause. This is racial profiling. It’s illegal; and, it’s tearing families apart.

That’s why we need you. Sign up to join a webinar where you can learn how to join a local Rapid Response Network in your region. Rapid Responders show up as allies when an ICE raid or enforcement action is reported, verifying whether there is a raid and gathering information and details that allow immigrants and their families to fight back in court.

Sign up now to learn how you can be an ally to immigrants and their families by joining an informational webinar:

·         Thursday, March 8 at 6:00 p.m.

·         Monday, March 12 at 12:00 p.m.

·         Monday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m.

Immigrant communities and local partner organizations, from faith-based organizations to labor unions, have worked tirelessly this past year to set up local Rapid Response Networks. These networks disseminate critical Know Your Rights information and provide a crisis hotline that anyone can call when faced with or witnessing a raid or enforcement action. The hotline dispatches observers to the scene to gather information and offer supportive resources to those left behind.

We need you to support your local immigration network.

From inhumane raids tearing families apart, to partnering with pervasive surveillance technology companies to gain access to personal data, ICE has shown it will use every tool possible to commit mass deportations. We must deploy our own tools as organizers and neighbors to document and resist abusive tactics and to stand up for the dignity of all immigrants.

Thank you,

Abdi Soltani
Executive Director
ACLU of Northern CA

Facebook:  aclu.norcal

Twitter:  aclu_norcal

Instagram:  aclu_norcal

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Rock the Congress Napa Valley Tickets ON SALE

Rock the Congress: Uniting Progressives to Win in 2018

Rock the Congress: Napa Valley is a one-day conference that will provide leading North Bay activists with the training and skills they need to take back Democratic control of the U.S. Congress — with a focus on districts right here in California.

It is urgent that progressives regain power in Congress so that we can more effectively defeat Trump and his Republican enablers. By building coalitions and providing leaders with tools they can bring back to their communities, we can and will take back the House to achieve a progressive future for America.


The conference wil have four main components:

  • Plenary speakers including Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5) and Heather Hargreaves of NextGen America
  • Small breakout training sessions taught by leading activists on topics such as direct action (canvassing, voter registration, text/phone banking); technology; swing district issues; and messaging
  • Structured time for activists to work collaboratively to create an inter-organizational plan for the 2018 midterm elections
  • Networking with Northern California organizations including Indivisible, Democracy Labs, Organizing for Action, Democracy Action, Sister District, Democrats of Napa Valley, and Swing Left

Check the schedule for a breakdown of all the day’s activities, and customize your schedule by selecting the sessions most relevant to your interests.


To guarantee your spot, please register and purchase your tickets as soon as possible. General admission is $60 and “Benefactor” level admission is $150 (which will allow us to offer scholarships to activists who would not otherwise be able to attend). We are a 100% volunteer-led event, and any unspent funds will be applied to upcoming Rock the Congress events. Tickets are priced to cover event costs, but we don’t want to turn away eager activists for lack of funds! Please contact for scholarship options.


7:30 – 8:30 am — Check-in, coffee and networking

8:30 am – 4:45 pm — Keynotes, networking lunch, and breakout sessions

5:00 – 6:30 pm — After party

Your registration covers a full lunch along with coffee, continental breakfast, and snacks. We will also have food and wine at the afterparty. You’ll receive an email about dietary restrictions before the conference.

Get your tickets NOW!

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Napa Valley Grapegrowers logoNapa Valley Farmworker Foundation

As you may have heard, there are reports of ICE activity in Napa County today. Below are important resources and information that may be useful to you and your employees when preparing for and responding to work site inspections.



Teams across the North Bay have formed the North Bay Rapid Response Network that responds to ICE activity 24 hours a day. If you have any information or need assistance, please call their hotline (707) 800-4554.  Please also visit their Facebook for recent updates.

Effective January 1, 2018, AB 450 requires employers to verify that immigration officials have a judicial warrant or subpoena prior to entering the workplace and to provide notice to employees if there has been a request to review the employer’s immigration documents, such as Form I-9s.

As with pre-existing federal law obligations, large penalties could result for violations of this new state law.  If questions arise, growers are encouraged to seek professional legal advice. To read AB 450, CLICK HERE


1795 THIRD STREET, NAPA, CALIFORNIA 94559     T. 707-944-8311     F. 707-224-8644     facebook     twitter

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