COPA schedules 15th Anniversary Convention in Salinas Housing, healthcare, immigration and mental health on the agenda

Salinas, Calif. – On September 30th, nearly 1000 people will gather from across the region to celebrate COPA’s 15th Anniversary, lay out organizing strategies on key issues affecting local families, and engage with elected officials around these concerns.

The convention for COPA, an acronym for Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action, is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 30 at Sherwood Hall, 940 N. Main St. Scheduled guests will be Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel, Santa Cruz County supervisors Zach Friend and John Leopold, and Monterey County supervisors Jane Parker and Simon Salinas.

Organizing strategies will include:

  • Announcing COPA’s support for Measure H in Santa Cruz County, a bond measure that would generate $140m for affordable housing. COPA leaders will explain their voter engagement plans, and discuss the importance of the measure with County Supervisors Zach Friend and John Leopold.
  • Pushing for the expansion of Esperanza Care, a Monterey County healthcare program that covers 3500 low-income, undocumented residents with full-scope primary care, medications, labs and some specialty services. COPA organized to create the program, and will now ask County Supervisors Jane Parker and Simon Salinas to work with the organization to identify additional funding sources and to create a way for additional clinics and hospitals to participate (Esperanza Care is currently only available through county-run providers).
  • Unveiling a Mental Health/Addiction “Civic Academy” that COPA has developed to teach about these issues in trusted institutions (congregations, schools, local organizations, unions), allow people to discuss how these issues affect their families, and to organize a constituency that can push for improvements and expansion of services. COPA will engage with Supervisors Friend and Leopold on Measure G, a proposed half-cent sales tax increase in unincorporated Santa Cruz County which could potentially fund a mental health and safety strategy by the Sheriff’s Department.
  • Calling on Congressman Jimmy Panetta to continue working in a bipartisan way towards Comprehensive Immigration Reform. COPA will also discuss its work with local law enforcement officials on improving the U-Visa process whereby victims or witnesses of crime can become eligible for legal status.

During a heightened election season, this will be the largest gathering of community members in the Central Coast region. COPA leaders will model what democracy looks like as they come together from diverse backgrounds to identify common concerns, make commitments to do their part towards addressing them, and seek responsiveness and accountability from those who represent them in elected office. It will be a gathering of people committed to doing the work of citizens and exercising their Constitutional right to assemble peaceably.

For Rabbi Paula Marcus, Temple Beth El in Aptos and a Co-Chair of COPA’s 15th Anniversary Convention, “the COPA convention is an opportunity for our diverse communities to come together in pursuit of justice. Through sharing our stories and traditions, building power together and celebrating our victories we demonstrate how working together brings benefits to all.” Maria Elena Manzo of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Salinas, the other Convention Co-Chair, says it will “show the power we can build when we organize to create the change we want to see in the community. This is what democracy looks like!”

COPA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of 28 member institutions working together to address the pressures affecting families in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. COPA was founded in 2003 and is affiliated nationally with the Industrial Areas Foundation, the oldest and largest community organizing network in the country. Please visit or for more information.


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