The Welfare Rights Organization is a grass root community based organization organized August 1980. Organized by welfare recipients to help protect the rights of poor people.
WRO was established to achieve two (2) basic goals.
1. To guarantee citizens receiving financial assistance from government sources are respected as human beings and full American citizens replete with all the rights and privileges of an American citizen, and, 2. To be an instrument through which recipients of governmental assistance can become economically enfranchised and ultimately self-sufficient.
In 1985 WRO held one of the largest statewide marches ever after the proposed cutback in food stamps, Medicaid, and needed programs. WRO
organized a caravan from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and spoke on the steps
of the state capital to save our state programs.
In October 1988 President Regan signed into law the Family Support Act of 1988 supported by Louisiana Act 566. The Family Support Act is designed to help welfare recipients become self-sufficient, it requires each state to develop a plan to help welfare recipients rid themselves of welfare dependency.
WRO spearheaded policies to help shape the 1988 welfare reform bill by getting on the agenda in Washington D C to speak about welfare reform and the needs of Louisiana welfare recipients. We then organized a Louisiana statewide meeting in which TANF recipients expressed their needs to facilitate successful transition from welfare to work, including support and services. The outcome of this organizing effort was to assure that recipients receive educational services and job training in order to secure employment that
allowed them to have productive lives upon their termination of theTANF benefits.
Subsequently, Louisiana developed one of the most humane and successful state "welfare to work" plans in 1990. This system allowed WRO and other community-based organizations to provide programs for welfare recipients that increased their understanding of the welfare system and how to negotiate it. Our program "And Still I Rise" was a motivational readiness program that prepared participants to return to school,develop job readiness skills that moved them off the welfare rolls .
Communiversity was also developed by WRO, one of our many strong points in the way we were able to relate to the community. This program was a university
in the community, free tuition and a dialogue on race and class. The course title, "Know Thy Self".
Over these years this program served approximately 10,000 women who were able to develop skills and experience in job search strategies and gain exposure to university and college environments, thereby increasing their capacity to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. 99% of the women successfully graduated from the program and moved on to state training employment programs. Of these, 75% went on to end welfare dependency, increase self-determination and create more independent living environments.
2002 REALITY CHECK
A live TV talk show, Sponsored by WRO, Hosted by Viola Washington
Airs weekly on Cox Channel 99, Thursday 10:00 am.
2005 Hurricane Katrina
After hurricane Katrina of 2005 the Welfare Rights Organization was destroyed
and all members were scattered throughout many states. WRO returned to New
Orleans in 2006 to pick up the pieces and rebuild a community destroyed, including our office building which was rebuilt by volunteers.These`volunteers were concerned citizens of the National Unitarian Universalist Church whom I had the opportunity to dialogue with on race, class and Katrina. The training focused on the difference between solidarity and charity
and race ,as it was related to race during the aftermath of Katrina. These same volunteers
were very instrumental in helping to rebuild the office of the Welfare`Rights Organization by
rolling up their sleeves,getting on their knees and putting the hammer and nail to work.
These volunteers from many states donated time, materials and supplies to restore our building for office space for WRO and transitional housing, a service WRO provided after
the storm. We are ever so grateful to the volunteers.(See photos on our volunteer page).
Also in 2005 people were displaced which caused a serious hardship. Families were struggling to return home to no avail. There was nothing to connect to in the community. After the return, WRO in its rebuilding efforts were able to seek funding to start a Twenty Four Hour Crisis Line to relocate with displace families. From this crisis line we developed a questioner survey. This survey was to collect information on the needs
of displaced families. Due to those needs we organized an Emergency Assistance/
Training Program. This program was designed to help those families returning home to become whole again. This program was developed with a training
component to educate and rebuild communities.
In 2006 WRO had the opportunity to visit the country of Thailand as an exchange
in information visit as it relates to the tsunami and hurricane Katrina. The trip lasted 14 fulfilling days with a wealth of information to share with the community at large
In 2007 WRO participated in a demonstration to save public housing for thousands of poor families who were treated as refugees. Many of the members were badly beaten and maced.
2008 - Present
WRO continues our Emergency Assistance/ Training Program, according to the needs and our Transitional Housing for families. Our REALITY CHECK tv show also continues.
Our Emergency Assistance Program is a continuing program ,especially now since Hurricane Katrina. WRO sees many needy families. Many we serve , many we can't. WRO
connects with other resources in the community for referrals. This Emergency Assistance
Program operates Tuesday - Friday, 9:00am -5:00 pm.Tuesday - Friday. This Emergency Assistance Program is funded by fund raisers, donations,and small foundation grants.
Our Emergency Assistance Program is always in need of donations. One of our major fund raising activities to help sustain our Emergency Assistance Program is our community
store, "The Bountiful Room". This store is opened Tuesday - Saturday and is operated by volunteers from the community.
*All donations are tax deductible.
Welfare Rights Organization
2600 Banks St
New Orleans, LA 70119
10AM - 5PM