Fundraisers spread peace, joy and thanks

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — With a call to “Rebuild America – Bring the Troops Home,” Connecticut readers of the People’s Weekly World honored leaders of the people’s movement at a Dec. 4 reception. The event, marking the 86th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, drew together peace activists, unions, students, politicians and community organizations. It also raised $4,000 towards the PWW Fund Drive.

Lois O’Connor, executive vice president of Connecticut Alliance of Retired Americans and former president of AFSCME Council 4, was honored for the many battles she has fought including the recent attacks on Social Security. As family members watched their mother speak, Lois paid tribute to the Communist Party for making positive changes. Her shout, “It’s time to get the hell out of Iraq,” drew applause from everyone.

Jorge Perez, president of the New Haven Board of Aldermen, was recognized because of his strong leadership and commitment to develop affordable housing. Perez said he was very happy to accept the award and vowed to continue working to stop injustices.

George Springer thanked everyone for keeping the pressures on the Bush administration. He said he is proud to be a part of the movement that is saying “enough is enough, bring the troops home now.” Springer, former president of AFT Connecticut and now AFT Northeast regional director, called on the administration to spend our money the right way: create more jobs, better education and rebuild the hurricane areas.

The program ended on a high note with guest speaker Martina Cruz from Lawrence, Mass., who was recently elected to the school committee. She campaigned under the slogan, “Education for peace, not war.”

Cruz’s decision to run was made because parents asked her to help improve the education process. She was tired of politicians who talked and talked and never did anything. She said she will continue to fight to inform students and parents of their legal rights about recruitment officers who prey on schools.

Cruz encouraged people to start teaching their children at home the problems our society is facing. “It’s a long struggle, but I will do my best. This is all about the future of our children,” she said.

The same day, readers in Philadelphia held an informative and exciting banquet there, raising $3,000 for the World Fund Drive. The banquet honored two outstanding activists, Diane Mohney and Al Zappala.

Mohney is a school nurse who serves as community co-chair of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice and is the recording secretary of both the Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women and the Philadelphia Area Committee to Defend Health Care.

Zappala has been a peace and social justice activist since the 1960s. His son, Sherwood Baker, was a Pennsylvania National Guardsman killed in Iraq in 2004. Al Zappala spent four days in Crawford, Texas, protesting the war and was part of the Bring The Troops Home Now Tour. Zappala shared his experiences and described some of the effects of the war on the troops and their families.

Rosita Johnson contributed to this story.