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Lions Roar : November 2016
each year, and legal protection from harassment and discrimin- ation. DWU helped form the National Domestic Workers Alli- ance in 2007, and in 2010 Poo became its director. The next year, Poo helped launch Caring Across Genera- tions, a national movement of families, caregivers, people with disabilities, and aging Americans that works to ensure that both families and caregivers receive the support and protec- tion they need. “If I needed home care for my mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I would need economic and systemic support to manage that care while working,” says Poo. “And the caregivers doing that work would need a living wage, benefits, and eco- nomic security.” Families employing caregivers and the caregivers themselves are all working toward the same goal, says Poo. “Everyone needs the same support and security. Families need care, and care- givers need to be able to perform at their highest potential. So we have to enhance the profession.” Poo says that Buddhist philosophy and practice have helped her stay present to constant change, both demographically and economically. “Accepting change helps us stay ahead of the curve in terms of strategies and solutions,” she says. “It’s being present to seeing the opportunities for positive outcomes and looking for places where human interests can connect and align. These are things I’ve learned through reading Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, and many others.” Poo’s staff retreats include exercises to stay centered and connected and to encourage resilience. “This work of caring for older adults, supporting people with disabilities, and caring for children has such tremendous pressure and responsibility,” she says. “If a caregiver is not feeling centered and nourished in her own presence, it’s very challenging. We have to figure out how to really care for these people.” Ai-jen Poo (right) marching with the National Domestic Workers Alliance in Washington. She fights for living wages, benefits, and legal protections for caregivers and other domestic workers. PHOTOBYBEKAHMANDELL Helping others is the ultimate political act. LINDSAY KYTE profiles five people who are changing society from the ground up. Changing the World—One Life at a Time LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2016 65