(Thank you to homecare worker and SEIU member leader Mary Hubert-Godwin for her contributions to this article.)
In honor of Black History Month, we would like to spotlight one of the early members of the SEIU Homecare Local 99. Before her passing on October 20, 2018, Annie Smith lived a life of activism and was an incredible leader in our union for many years.
Boycotting, picketing and standing up for her rights while picking cotton with her grandmother in Mississippi were some of Annie Smith’s earliest and most poignant childhood memories. Accustomed to civil disobedience, Annie wasn’t sure SEIU 503 was militant enough for her at first, but she came to realize soon enough that we stand up for one another, shoulder-to-shoulder; ready to do whatever it takes.
Improvements in the lives of consumers and care providers since Homecare joined 503 have been nothing short of life changing for both. A voice in contract negotiations and in legislative directives has been such a positive and powerful force and gives us hope for our future. Annie was particularly proud of the work lead by our political team and looked forward to volunteering each political cycle.
Fellow homecare worker and SEIU member leader Mary Hubert-Godwin had this to say about Annie, “I first met Ms. Annie several years ago thru Ms. Jean, Organizer at that time. Ms. Annie was a HomeCare Provider that never said “NO” to me when asked to step-up the “last minute” when my plate was full with other clients responsibilities as priorities. For example, I was scheduled to give New Orientations for a period of time; she provided that substitutes role. Another example, she stepped-up for me as a substitute Homecare Council District 1 meeting Facilitator. She was consistently good in those roles and a person with trustworthy qualities, plus a good sense of humor. I was blessed in many areas with our relationship as an African-American women because that was a commonality bond. She had short-comings like myself, but we achieved acceptance and respect during her lifetime…she brought blessings to others.”
Annie loved people and the work she did. Her greatest joy was to see her clients’ smile, a testament to her work, her compassion and her ability to know what was truly important.