Welcome to Oregon Action!

Oregon Action is a statewide, multi-racial community organization dedicated to social justice.  We assist people to organize on their own behalf – with a focus on low-income people, people of color and others with limited access to traditional structures of power and policy-making.

Through leadership development and community organizing, we provide the organizational base for participatory democracy, just communities and a fair economy. More about Oregon Action…


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Changes at Oregon Action

Dear Oregon Action Community,

I am pleased to announce that Michelle Glass has agreed to serve as Oregon Action’s Lead Regional Organizer for Southern Oregon. As Oregon Action Outreach Director, Michelle has worked side by side with Virginia Camberos, who has resigned as regional organizer to move back to her native Southern California.

Michelle has years of experience organizing on economic justice, women’s rights, healthcare, green jobs, and housing, and has a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Southern Oregon University.

Since Michelle became Outreach Director, our Rogue Valley staff and volunteers have been able to…

  • Make more than 8,000 contacts with residents regarding health care issues through our Cover Oregon and Oregon Health Plan outreach and enrollment work.
  • Conduct 85 canvassing and tabling events since July, involving 31 volunteers, for the safe roads campaign to restore driver’s cards for immigrants.
  • Strengthen alliances as part of the leadership of the Southern Oregon chapter of Oregon Strong Voice.
  • Increase our communication through the news media including 22 interviews, OpEds, and coverage of local events in 2014.
  • Make substantial progress in recruiting and retaining younger and more diverse members such as our newest board member Ricardo Lujan, new staff members Alex Budd and Karen Lujan, and volunteers Pedro Rivera, Jorge Pinon, Ana Alvarez, Kathryn Kelley, and Joseph Wood.

I also would like to thank Virginia for her invaluable contributions to Oregon Action. Virginia has strengthened Rogue Valley Oregon Action, making it a more equitable organization because of her vision and leadership.

We all will miss Virginia and wish her the best in the next chapter of her life back home. We are very fortunate to have a team in place that can continue to build our movement and our outreach. I’m very excited by our achievements and look forward to a smooth transition and continued progress.


Darlene Huntress

Executive Director

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Thank You Virginia


“Virginia is one of the most passionate, committed organizers I have ever had the honor of working with.”

Hello Friends,

I wanted to let you all know that our dear friend and Rogue Valley Lead Organizer Virginia Camberos will be leaving Oregon Action at the end of October. While I am so sad to see her go, I am deeply, deeply grateful for the incredible work she has done on behalf of our organization and, most importantly, for the communities we organize and empower in Oregon. She’ll be relocating back to Southern California where she will join a large community of family and friends who I know will support her as she embarks on her new journey.

Virginia is one of the most passionate, committed organizers I have ever had the honor of working with, and her time at Oregon Action has been so important in advancing the social justice issues that our mission compels us to organize on. I have been particularly proud of the work she did as our lead organizer in Rogue Valley over the past year, meeting every new challenge with a smile, with great energy, and with tremendous success. We are a stronger, more equitable organization because of her vision to make it so, and she will be missed by her community in Rogue Valley, and by the social justice community there and in the rest of our great state.

I have every confidence that Michelle and the rest of our Rogue Valley team will carry on the work that Virginia has dedicated her life to, and we will do everything we can to make her proud.

Darlene Huntress,

Executive Director


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Report Card Highlights Need to Improve Women’s Health, Eliminate Racial Disparities

Portland, Oregon—Oregon is ranked #26 in the country and received a final grade of C in the 2014 Women’s Health Report Card released today by Oregon Action and The Main Street Alliance of Oregon.

The report card provides an important measure of the state’s record on women’s health as politicians court women voters ahead of the November elections and continue to debate how to combat persistent racial disparities in health.

“All women deserve access to quality, affordable health care and family planning services,” Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, said after reading an advanced copy of the report. “Cancer screenings, immunizations, and reproductive care can help prevent more serious health problems that, if left untreated, will ultimately lead to higher health care costs. No one should go without seeing a doctor or health care provider because of inability to pay. Although the report shows progress, we still have work to do until all Oregonians and Americans – women, men and children – can access the care they need. Better access will lead to a healthier population, which will strengthen our communities and our economy.”

The 2014 Women’s Health Report Card for Oregon is available here: http://bit.ly/HealthReportCard

“This report card shows Oregon has an average record on women’s health. Though this is better than a failing grade, it’s not nearly good enough for women and the families that depend on them, and especially for women of color,” said Darlene Huntress, Executive Director of Oregon Action.  “These grades should serve as an urgent call to action for Oregon leaders.  It’s time to get past political gridlock and take concerted action to improve women’s health.  Legislators must take steps that invest in community-based outreach and health coverage enrollment strategies targeted toward low-income women and communities of color.”

Oregon’s final rank and grade focus on three areas: health coverage for women, women’s access to health care, and women’s health outcomes. On coverage, Oregon ranked 24th in the country, a grade of C. On access to health care, Oregon ranked 30th, a grade of C-. And on health outcomes, Oregon ranked 25th, a grade of C.

“Oregon has an opportunity to improve its overall record on women’s health, catch up with other states that are performing better, and be a leader on eliminating race-based disparities,” said Stephen Michael, State Director of The Main Street Alliance of Oregon. “But if state lawmakers drag their feet, we’re only going to fall further behind other states. Women who are denied health care, and the families who depend on them, will pay the price.”

Looking at women’s health by race, the report card finds Oregon is doing an even worse job meeting the needs of women of color, who are uninsured at higher rates and also face worse health outcomes than women overall, adding urgency to the debate over eliminating racial disparities.

“Politicians must put aside partisan bickering, advocate for women, and take action to improve women’s health by moving forward with a proactive health equity agenda,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society, which produced the report card. “Our families, our communities, and our economy depend on women – women must be able to depend on Oregon to deliver on the promise of quality, affordable health care.”

The 2014 Women’s Health Report Card uses the latest available data from government sources to rank Oregon among the 50 states on 30 measures (and more than 50 individual data points) relating to women’s health issues. It generates state rankings and grades, analyzes race-based disparities, and includes specific recommendations for state action to improve women’s health.


For more information, please contact:


Darlene Huntress

Executive Director, Oregon Action

(503) 983-3258


Stephen Michael

State Director, Main Street Alliance of Oregon

(503) 610-6726


Kathy Mulady

Communications Director, Alliance for a Just Society

(206) 568-5400

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Oregon Health Plan Renewals

Renew your Oregon Health Plan benefits

If you are on the Oregon Health Plan, you may receive a notice that you need to renew coverage. The process for renewals has changed, and we are here to help!

Do you have questions about renewing your Oregon Health Plan coverage? Here’s a handy Frequently Asked Questions list about renewals. Wondering how to renew? Read on!

If you receive mail from Cover Oregon or the Oregon Health Plan, you should always open it immediately! It could be time sensitive and not taking action quickly could cause you to lose coverage. If you receive a letter, here’s what you should do:

  1. Fill out the requested information for the household.
  2. Sign the form or application
  3. Send the form or application back in the envelope provided by the date specified in the letter.

You can also renew by phone! Call Oregon Health Plan Customer Service to update your information: 1-800-699-9075 or 711 (TTY) to renew over the phone if you receive a letter.

It can be a long wait on hold, so I recommend calling in, putting your phone on speaker and then doing something productive while you wait. Read a book, work on a project, fix dinner, do your dishes. When you do get through it is usually a very quick process. Just tell the OHP customer service representative on the phone that you need to renew your OHP application and then provide any updates to your information such as: changes in family size, change of address or phone number, changes in income.

We can help you fill out the paperwork or check on an application you have already submitted

Call our Medford office with questions about the application or to schedule an appointment to do the application with a qualified Cover Oregon Assister in English or Spanish. 541-772-4029.

If you would like us to help you fill out the renewal form or the application, or help check on the status of an application you have already submitted, we will need you to fill out this form to authorize us to help you.  The form can be emailed to Michelle@OregonAction.org or mailed to our office at 33 N. Central Avenue, Suite #303 Medford Oregon 97501.

If you have general questions about the Oregon Health Plan, visit their website at www.OHP.oregon.gov

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#WeMatter: Action for Women and Families

Oregon Action is proud to be joining a diverse and growing number of individuals, organizations and coalitions nationwide to generate even greater attention to — and progress on — the issues and policies that are of critical importance to the economic stability and success of women, families and the nation. We are coming together to remind lawmakers and people across the country that we are women and families, and the issues we care about matter.

We need an economy that works for all of us, and that starts with pay equity for all, a higher minimum wage, and paid family and medical leave. 

#WEmatter allows all of us who care about these issues to link our efforts, raise awareness, and come together in a new and powerful way to call for action and accountability.

Today is Women’s Equality Day and we are out registering women to vote as we build the voices and power of women and families in our democracy. What will you do today?

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Job Gap: More Working Families Struggling


Job Gap: More Working Families Struggling to Make Ends Meet are Sliding Deeper into Debt

A living wage in Oregon is $23.94 for a single parent with one child.

Families are losing hope of ever having economic security

Medford, Oregon – Working families are out of balance – costs are climbing and paychecks are shrinking. Workers who don’t earn a living wage can’t make ends meet. On top of that, many are struggling with deep debt, especially student loan and medical debt.

“Families Out of Balance” is the first report in the 2014 Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series, produced by the Alliance for a Just Society. The report, released today by Oregon Action, shows that a living wage in Oregon ranges from $15.96 per hour for a single adult to $30.75 for a single adult with two children.

Nationally, the report reveals a shocking disproportionality in the burden of debt shouldered by low-income families, compared to wealthier families. The Alliance has produced the Job Gap Study on jobs and wages since 1999.

Yet, despite having far less income for each dollar of debt, our study shows that 89 percent of low-income families prioritize making debt payments on time – sometimes going without food, heat or other basic necessities.

Meanwhile, the minimum wage in Oregon is now $9.10. As a result, even full-time workers can’t make ends meet, much less save for the future or for emergencies.

Our report looks at five household types in Oregon, you can read it here. There is also a national report and data for other states and counties. It’s available at thejobgap.org.

A living wage is the hourly pay needed to cover the cost of housing, food, utilities and other expenses, including modest savings.

“The release of this report around Labor Day weekend is timely to say the least,” said Darlene Huntress, Executive Director of Oregon Action. “As we celebrate workers across our state, this report shows a stark reality for many of them.  And even as we boast one of the highest minimum wages in the country, Oregon’s wage floor still falls short of a living wage, denying workers the ability to support themselves and their families.  Whether we are talking about student loans, credit card debt, healthcare or housing costs, Oregon families are struggling to make ends meet and $9.10 an hour doesn’t come close to what workers need to cover the cost of living.”

In addition, research in “Families Out of Balance” will be critical as policy makers debate minimum wage increases. While Seattle recently set the bar with a $15 minimum wage, others, including the federal government, haven’t kept up.  The national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, unchanged since 2009.

Our study finds that even $15 an hour doesn’t cover the true cost of living. In the 10 states studied for the report, that amount would only meet the living needs of a single adult (without children) in two states: Idaho and Montana.

“It’s outrageous that our nation’s leaders have failed to increase the federal minimum wage for five years. They are failing our families, and they are creating an economic and social disaster,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.

“Lifting the minimum wage to a true living wage is the first step to giving all families a level playing field,” she said.

Gladys Alverez from Medford, whose story is featured in both the state and national reports, is finding that her minimum wage job at a local hotel leaves her nothing at the end of the month to save or spend. “ Right now, I only have $40 in my bank account,

but I owe $2,000 in medical debt from an emergency room visit for stomach pain. Without savings, we can only afford to pay the minimum of $60 on our two credit card bills. I pay $300 to $400 a month to feed our growing kids. I’m working as hard as I can, but I don’t know how I’m going to make it with this debt and this stress.”

We are happy to help you contact Gladys and other families willing to share their stories on trying to make ends meet and pay their bills on less than a living wage.

The Alliance for a Just Society and Oregon Action call on Oregon leaders to take action now to create real economic stability for working families. We recommend these policy changes:

  • Increase the federal minimum wage
  • Abolish the federal tipped minimum wage
  • Reinvest in higher education
  • Address medical debt acquired before the Affordable Care Act
  • Expand Medicaid eligibility
  • Regulate payday lending

Oregon Action is a statewide, non-partisan network of people and organizations dedicated to social, economic and racial justice for all through individual and group empowerment.

Alliance for a Just Society is a national research, policy, and organizing network that advocates locally and nationally for economic and social equity.


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‘Why are there so few Black people in Oregon?’ A conversation project

Dear Friends,

We are excited to invite you to ‘Why are there so few Black people in Oregon?’ A conversation project, hosted by the Rural Organizing Project, and the Oregon Humanities.

Have you ever wondered why the Black population in Oregon is so small? Oregon has a history not only of Black exclusion and discrimination, but also of a vibrant Black culture that helped sustain many communities throughout the state—a history that is not taught in schools. Author and educator Walidah Imarisha will lead participants through an interactive timeline of Black history in Oregon that speaks to the history of race, identity, and power in this state and the nation. Participants will discuss how history, politics, and culture have shaped—and will continue to shape—the landscape not only for Black Oregonians but all Oregonians.

When: Thursday, September 4th 6:30pm

Where: Taprock Restaurant 971 SE 6th St. Grants Pass

Please RSVP to Alex Budd at alexbudd@riseup.net or 720-425-4955.
Thanks, Alex Budd

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By Libero Della Piana on August 18, 2014

mich brown bad picThe images of protest and militarized police response in Ferguson, Missouri are shocking. But developments in that small suburban town are simply exposing the racial reality that millions of people of color face every day.

Everyday experiences with the courts, media, government authorities and police remind us, in ways large and small, that the lives of young brown and black kids have little value in society.

Police and vigilante killings of young black and brown people are commonplace in communities of color. The killings of Renisha McBride, Ramarley Graham, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and others in recent years have cast a national spotlight on an epidemic of senseless killings of unarmed people of color. All too often our children are dying at the hands of those entrusted with public safety. All too often the killers go free. The message is clear: black and brown people just don’t count.

It has been widely reported that in Ferguson—a town whose population is nearly two-thirds Black—there is only a single Black city councilperson, and three Black police officers in a force of 53. Ferguson reported 8 times as many black arrests as white arrests for the first part of 2014. Blacks represent 86% of all traffic stops and 92% of all searches. The data show a clear practice of racial profiling. The numbers might differ a little from place to place, but these statistics are a stark image of the racial divide that exists in small towns and large across our country today. Racial disparities in crime statistics are the norm from coast to coast.

Blacks, Latinos, American Indians and other people of color are routinely excluded from the halls of power and subjected to racialized police policies like profiling and stop-and-frisk.
Policing policies have led to the mass imprisonment of people of color, many for low-level drug offenses. The prevalence of incarceration and life post-incarceration is one of the primary features in Black communities in particular, with massive and pervasive social and economic impacts and communities.

Today the militarization of local policing, border patrol and private security is rampant with Federal programs providing military gear, armored vehicles and “crowd control” equipment to local police often for free.

Add to this the fact that communities of color were in many cases the hardest hit during the economic crisis of 2008-2009 and have yet to recover. Communities with chronic and generational unemployment are now competing for jobs with other hard-hit communities. Millions of those with jobs are the working poor, stuck in jobs that rarely provide a living wage. Without jobs or hope, subject to police harassment and violence, bearing the brunt of budget cuts to public services and benefits, many low-income communities of color have become pressure cookers.

Politicians and media commentators casually promote the idea that refugee children on the border are less than human, the idea that a black child can be a physical threat to armed men, the idea that “public safety” does not include safety for people of color. Public policies and legislation are routinely racialized, blaming the powerless for society’s ills and putting programs for communities of color on the chopping block.

So when an unarmed 18-year-old, Michael Brown, was gunned down in the street in Ferguson August 9 it was natural that the community reacted with rage and frustration. When the police greeted protests with riot gear and rubber bullets it is hardly surprising that the rage boiled over.

The racial realities of policing didn’t start this week with Michael Brown’s terrible and needless death. The antagonism between the police and communities of color is a persistent strand of the fabric of modern US society. The pattern of racist ideas and policies will take years to unravel. But it can only begin when we expose the racial realities, submit government institutions to community scrutiny and control, and treat young people of color as human beings.

We call for:

The immediate suspension—without pay—pending independent investigation of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

Stop vilifying Michael Brown, the unarmed victim of an unjustified killing.

Implementation of community-controlled policing, restorative justice, alternative detention group homes and other alternatives to lethal policing in communities of color plagued by police violence.

Take Action:

Sign the Color of Change letter calling for full federal investigation and prosecution of those responsible in the death of Mike Brown.

Ask your Senator to support Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin (D-MI)’s review of the so-called “1033 program” which provides surplus military equipment to local police, often free of charge.

Call on your Congressional Representatives to cosponsor the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act” (PDF) sponsored by Hank Johnson (D-GA) which would limit the transfer of military equipment to local police departments.



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