Tribute to Amy Smoucha – April 2012

Amy Smoucha, long-time Women’s Voices member and organizer with Jobs with Justice, was honored at our April meeting as she prepares to leave St. Louis for a job with Families USA in Washington, DC. Below are remarks from President Mary Clemons, who presented Amy with a gift of appreciation from all of us.

Amy has been a Missouri voice for those in need of affordable health care. She began by helping people apply for Medicaid and then to save and protect public health clinics in St. Louis. And for the past 5 years Amy has been the health care organizer for Missouri Jobs with Justice.

In January, 2007 after we learned about the Massachusetts health care plan from Professor Sidney Watson, some of our members determined that we should advocate for health care reform. So who better to help a fledging organization bring to life its mission to work for social justice? Amy, who had become a member in 2006, attended our health care meetings, encouraged us to attend seminars to learn about reform and saw that we joined with another fledging group, Missouri Health Care For All. But Amy didn’t stop there. Recognizing that she had a group of willing learners, we received advocacy training with Jobs With Justice experts. And with Amy’s guidance, advocate we did!

What is it about Amy that gave us the confidence and ability to take on work that none of us had ever done before or even thought about doing before? Some words come to mind:

Teacher – Whether learned or intuitive Amy has the skill to provide the right amount of information and let it sink in before adding more. Every time she thought we “got it” she gave us more.

Motivator – Amy encouraged the latent talent she saw in us. When we showed even a little positive sign that we might indeed be able to perform a task she asked us to go a step further.

Cheerleader – Amy: Could you write a little speech for a health care rally? WV member: I can try. After putting down the bullhorn, Amy: You are a Rock Star! That was Amazing!

Organizer – Amy knew when and where we should be and what we should do. She had us attend rallies, she had us write speeches, she encouraged us to write letters to newspapers and to legislators, she took us to Jefferson City to testify before legislative committees. And when Amy called or emailed with a request, we didn’t hesitate – we knew she didn’t make frivolous requests. We knew we had to say yes.

Mentor – As you can tell from what I have said so far, Amy has been our mentor. And like a good one, she stood behind us and didn’t take the credit for our successes. She truly enjoyed seeing us grow in our abilities and confidence in our mission.

Amy is now moving on to become a National voice for health care reform. She will be moving to the Washington D.C. area as a Field Director for the prestigious Families USA.

Amy, you are our Amazing Rock Star! We thank you for all you have done for us. And with this gift, we hope you will purchase an ipad so you can stay in constant touch with us! In your new role know that you have allies here who will speak out and demand health care justice.

We received the following response from Amy:

Hi Wonderful WVR Women,

Thank you so much for your generous and incredibly thoughtful gift and the affirming send off you gave me at the monthly meeting.

I hope all know that you mean a lot to me, not just professionally but also personally. You are amazing and visionary activists, fighting to make your values real in the world, and you are making a tremendous difference in the social justice movements in our state.

In addition to your contributions to our movement, you are wise, strong, funny and loving women-and you have been an important support and inspiration to me in my work and life. I’ve learned a lot from each of you, and working with you during joys and also rough times has been very valuable to me.

We will stay in touch and continue to work together on health care and other critical justice issues…and please call me if there are ways I can continue to support the advocacy efforts of WVR—I want to be an active long-distance member!

Much love and gratitude!