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The senior living industry has a voice. You can hear it on Bridge the Gap podcast!

183: Allison Serrao

Allison Serrao of Freedom Keepers United is an experienced homeschooling mother of 3, independent music venue owner, and CEO, running a worldwide nonprofit organization that advocates for patient + consumer (human) rights globally. She discusses vaccines, the government and choices.
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Over the last decade, Allison has had the incredible honor of developing focused community groups that meet the specific needs of those who partake. Her work includes facilitating community opportunities for young mothers, homeschooling families, and medical freedom advocates, providing resources for families as they grow, supporting prenatal and postpartum mothers, empowering families to make informed medical decisions for their health and over 300+ hours of grassroots lobbying efforts at the California state Capitol.
Her life’s work is to raise her children, to help others and to empower others to help themselves.
With a collective effort made by volunteers, the grassroots organization,Freedom Keepers, has expanded from one chapter in CA, to over 60 chapters worldwide. Each chapter United in our mission to preserve medical freedom and build sustainable communities for families and individuals affected by medical mandates.

Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap Podcast. The senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We have a very relevant and interesting topic on today. We want to welcome our esteemed guest. We want to welcome Allison Serrao. She’s a Freedom Keepers. Welcome to the program.


Allison: Hi, thanks for having me here today.


Lucas: Yes. All the way out in California. You’re taking time to sit down with us. We really appreciate it. You know, Freedom Keepers is you’re building a community of freedom keepers who preserve medical freedom. And so that topic, medical freedom that brings to mind a lot of different things. Can you unpack that for us?


Allison: Medical freedom is the ability to make informed choices about your health, any medical decisions for your health to have the right to self-determination. So in other words, any medical procedures any medications, you have the right to make those decisions based off the information you’ve received and the informed consent that you’ve given for to not make those decisions.


Josh: Wow. So that is a mouthful that seems extremely relevant to the times we are living. Allison, we’re going to have to dive a little bit deeper into this, but can you give a little bit of a background on the organization? Like how Freedom Keepers, how you got involved, where your passion has been driven from and get us up to date? 


Allison: Yeah, so Freedom Friends United is an organization we started in California. I was just one chapter. So it was California Freedom Keepers, and it really stemmed from a bill SB276 that happened here in 2019. And what that bill did, was it retroactively changed qualifications for a medical exemption. Now, when we talk about medical freedom, it encompasses a lot of different issues. In this case, it was vaccinations for children. And so the medical exemptions previously had allowed you to get an exemption. If your child had seizures, if your child had been paralyzed, if your child had Hodgkin’s disease, things that had become a result of that vaccination, you were able to get a medical exemption, or if they had pre-existing conditions.


We saw in California, a long trajectory of different bills that kind of teed up SB276. And so when SB276 happened, there had already been a ton of families affected by previous laws put in place. And so Freedom Keepers came because we had seen those three bills happen in California. And then we saw how that was going to transition over to all the other states. And we did see that. And then we did start to see multiple states start passing more mandates for school children, making a way more religious exemptions, personal belief exemptions, and medical exemptions, and eat it all up to package it up into one large bill that would eradicate everything, which is essentially what SB276 did. So that’s how Freedom Keepers came together is we saw that this was going to affect many other people. And then 2020 hit and medical freedom became a much larger topic and a much more recognized issue because it’s now affecting not just school children, but everyone.


Lucas: You know, Josh there seems to be kind of a path that’s being cut in our culture where it’s kind of a divide and conquer. We really want people to be on these hyper ended, opposing sides. You’re hyper pro or you’re hyper anti any given topic of today. Right? So Alison, can you talk to us about your approach? Is there room to be in the middle? Is there room for people to have a discussion? And what’s your approach to that?


Allison: There absolutely is room. I think the hard thing for people to get a full grasp on, or maybe they just don’t know how to, is that a lot of people who are on either side, they haven’t experienced the other side. I have a lot of pro-vaccine friends who are either in the medical field and say, well, ‘I’ve seen the firsthand effects of disease that is easily prevented’, but then I also worked in this industry of medical freedom where you see tons for families and individuals who’ve been severely affected by vaccine injury. And so that’s a lot of the voices that we represent and the approach that we take as an organization is to be very gentle in our approach because there are many different levels and different journeys that people are taking to come to the conclusion that maybe these health or these medical decisions are not the ones for them, or maybe they weren’t fully informed about these things before they made them. Maybe this could have been prevented if I had all of the information, I think there has to be room for people to be in the middle so that they have the ability to make the right decision for their own health. It shouldn’t be either or because each person is so individually different, their health, everything. And they need to have the room for that. If their individual health doesn’t support either side, they can make that choice themselves.


Josh: Some things I want to go back on just a little bit here because Allison, you’re going to have to dumb some things down for me. You know, probably most of our audience listening just completely understood everything you’re saying, but I want to go back on this timeline because you know, you spout it out very quickly, very eloquently, this bill that was passed in 2019, which I think the timing of that seemed very ironic to me, given the state of the world and what happened last year in 2020, but summarize again, just like, what led up to that. And essentially in the most simplest terms from that bill, what was the outcome of that bill? Just so I understand it again.


Allison: So the history of that bill, it actually starts in 2012. We had in California and a bill called AB 21. What this bill did was it said that any person who wanted to opt out of vaccines, the parent would need to sign a form. This form would say that they have read the risks, they understand the consequences of not vaccinating their child and they still refuse to go. Well, there was that. So then they had a bunch of forms of people who they passed it. So they had people who filled out these forms. They now had a list of how many people were not vaccinating, then came 2015, where they were able to use that information and say, look how many people are not vaccinating their children. We need to get rid of these personal belief and religious belief exemptions because it’s a public health. So they got rid of those exemptions. And in 2015, they passed another bill that said, okay, well, if you’re not going to vaccinate, your only option is to have a medical exemption. And it will still be your choice with your doctor to do so or not. But you will not be able to put your children in public school without a medical exemption.


So then what happened was there was a surge in medical exemptions because all these people who did have medical reasons to be exempt, they were using personal belief and religious belief exemption, because those are much easier to obtain. So then 2019 came, they used all of those data points with the medical exemptions to say, oh my gosh, look how many medical exemptions there are, there must be fraudulent medical exemption, which was the large scale in why they chose to pass this bill. 


They essentially got rid of a doctor’s ability to write a medical exemption, to have the full authority, to determine if a child needs one, what they did instead was each child would need to apply for a medical exemption with the doctor. The doctor would then need to turn this information into the state and the state department of health or the public department of health would then determine if the should be exempt. So they went through all of these different stages of getting to the ultimate point where they were going to punish doctors. If they wrote medical exemptions, this bill retroactively changed the qualifications for medical exemptions. So there used to be a plethora of reasons why a child should not get an exemption whether it was seizures, paralysis, Kawasaki disease, Julian Barth syndrome, or syndrome. Tons of different reasons that should be a viable use, not to get a medical exemption. We’re now being taken off of that list. And so all of these children who had medical exemptions, were going to have those taken away.


In addition to that, it created a database that in order for your medical exemption to be, this is not quick, I’m sorry.


Josh: No, this is good. This is good education. 


Allison: In order for your exemption to be validated, it had to be submitted to a database and it had to be approved, the doctor and the reasons for that needed to be listed. It also changed it to where if you were to receive a medical exemption, it wasn’t just for all of the vaccines that had to be for each individual one. So you had to have a reason for each individual one, meaning your child had to first prove that they almost died, went into Anaphylactic shock, had a brain hemorrhage or whatever, in order to obtain that medical exemption and it wouldn’t be just for that singular vaccine. It had to be for every single one on the list. So it was a very intense bill that when we talk about medical freedom, you know, the way that it’s affected Californians is that it has stripped the rights of thousands of children in the state to be able to just have an education and for what? For public health, well we are now in a pandemic. And so it, it almost was a slap in the face to families who just went through this because we had our educational rights taken away from us and then the pandemic hit and then everybody’s educational rights were taken. But instead of people realizing, I’m going down down a dark hole here, but instead of people realizing the devastating effects of what public health authority can have on the public, people are taking the opposite. They’re running in the opposite direction and they’re deciding to go full, gung-ho on, you know, super strict mandates and super strict restrictions. And we’re seeing a devastating effect on the community as a whole, at least in our community.


Josh: I appreciate that education and you know, our listeners may be out there thinking, okay, she’s, she’s talking about childhood vaccines, vaccine injuries, all of these things, how is this relevant to senior living? But I think if you look at the principle, we’re going there. So I think there’s so much relevancy because you can see from a legislative process, which is a whole another discussion we may touch on in a minute, because so many of our listeners, I guarantee you, if they have not experienced or tried to insert themselves and be a voice in the legislative process, it can be a very frustrating one and a very eye opening experience that I know you’ve been part of firsthand, but you know, what do you think. This seemed like to me and said, this was a slippery slope that started many years ago. And then there was more freedoms taken away and more freedoms taken away. And it’s like, there’s an inch taken, there’s a foot taken, there’s a yard taken. And then that climax was in 2019, right before the pandemic. So talk to our listeners from a medical freedom standpoint, what is the relevancy of that bill in 2019 to our audience today, that’s talking about, okay, we’re dealing with seniors. How can we bridge that gap for them and say, this is what medical freedom you should be having these kinds of conversations.


Allison: Well, in our community, we did see a huge influx of inquiries about, how do I help my loved one who is in a senior facility because we’re not only, we’re not able to see them, we’re visiting them through glass. And that is a devastating inquiry to get, because these are human beings who still have life, they still have worth and they still need to be cared for with dignity. And you’ve got care workers who are coming in everyday, going home every day, but their own family members cannot see them. And it does affect every walk of life. And that’s what our community is made up of. When it comes to seniors, we’re seeing, the restrictions that were put on care homes, which I don’t disagree with all of them.


I think that in every industry, they have to take precautions to keep the people that they are responsible for keeping face us, especially in the senior care environment. But at the same time, they also have rights. You know, they have rights to their religious friends, to their freedom of speech, to their own self determination if they are capable of that. And I think it’s important that we feel the effects of public health authority and a watch be so all encompassing where we were not even able to see our loved ones because of public health. And we were not even able to touch them or hug them or have a real conversation with them because it was blurred through glass or, we could only talk from six feet away. We couldn’t even hug our loved ones. What is that doing to the ethics of care in this industry?


What is that doing to file we, and this is in every industry. I come from a child development background. And even in that industry, we’re talking about individualized care, how are we taking care of the whole child? Are we taking care of the whole person? Okay, we are protecting them from germs. Okay. But are we protecting them emotionally? Are we caring for them in a spiritual way? What are we doing to care for the whole person? And if we’re not doing that, what does that say about our ethics? And we’re willing to compromise some of these other areas and have public health supersede everything else, you know, what does that say about our level of care? What does that say about our standards of operation and, and what we’re willing to give another human being and what we’re not willing to give another human being based on public health?


I think it’s an important conversation that every industry needs to have because there’s a big divide happening in our country and overseas as well, that somehow if you do not subscribe or are unable to get the vaccine, you are a part of a problem. And that division is only sowing mistrust in each other and making see each other as less and less worthy of receiving proper care. You know I had somebody in the medical industry, he’s a nurse and he was talking about overhearing. Another nurse kind of scold the person who needed to be on event and who hadn’t been back to the needed. And the level of care for that person was we should’ve gotten vaccinated. Like she said this because that person who’s on their death bed. You know what I mean? And I think we really have to put ourselves in check in every single industry that we’re in. Is the person important, or are we letting fear overrun our ability to be human? You know, are we giving up our humanity to buy in to the fear tactics and that it’s working, people are fearing each other. People are being divisive towards each other. And they’re creating an issue that we haven’t had vaccines for this particular thing for a long time. And all of a sudden, it’s the only thing that we need. And I think it’s just a very false narrative. So I’m going, I’m on many tangents here, but to unpack here.


Josh: It is a lot to unpack. We’re probably going to actually have to do this in multiple episodes. I won’t speak for Lucas, but it’s something that I’m very passionate about right now. I think me and Lucas both have very strong reasons, but different reasons why we are passionate about this conversation. I can only speak for myself and say it is such a relevant conversation because the business of my day job that I’m in, the families, the residents, the team members, which the majority of our workforce is single moms working hard and Lucas has said this before: they’ve chosen to come to work with us and bypassed Chick-fil-A and Starbucks for one reason or another. Because they love serving older adults and we’ve got a very passionate workforce, but the phone calls that I have received time and time again, over the last several months saying Josh, I am so happy where I am, and I feel such a mission-driven purpose to be here working, but what’s coming down the line from my corporate team is that I’m going to be forced to do something that in my spirit and my soul, for whatever reason, I’m given a million different reasons, they don’t feel good about being forced to do something. And it may mean the difference of them being able to work there anymore, or being forced out just because of a choice of what they’re willing or not willing to do as far as a medical procedure to themselves. And that, to me, regardless of what spectrum you fall on or whether you’re very pro-vaccine or non-vaccine, or somewhere in the middle, I have a real issue when we put ourselves in a position to where we’re telling people what they have to do, and we’re discrediting what their religious beliefs are, their life experiences are, their morals, whatever it is, it’s their choice. And so to me, I think it’s a very relevant conversation. Again, we could go deep down the rabbit hole here and have a long conversation. And Lucas, do you have any thoughts on this? Are you trying to reel me in right now?


Lucas: No, I appreciate this. I think for our listeners right now, this is understandably very complicated. This is a complex topic and I’ll go back to where we kind of started in this is that there seems to be a very strong divide and conquer, and fear that’s been interjected into this type of a conversation. And my antennas always go up when people are saying one, whatever topic is, you can’t think that way, you can’t talk that way, you cannot ask that question. My antennas always go up and I think, Hmm, well, that’s interesting. Why is that? And so we’re taking the first step in having a conversation related to this because it’s relatable to everybody everywhere right now. And so we appreciate Allison, you wanting to stand up for your own beliefs and principles and to spend some time with us today and challenging something that’s very complicated and really approaching it in a way that I feel like is an open door instead of a slammed door. 


Allison: I think that’s important. That’s a very important part of the conversation to be able to approach it with open arms, and open mind, because reality is we don’t have all the answers. Science doesn’t have all the answers. Individuals don’t have all the answers. Government doesn’t have all the answers. And at the end of the day, we are the lines who are going to be living with the decision we make. And if the government and science and individuals can’t guarantee what happens to us based on those decisions, it needs to remain our decision and our decision alone without coercion, without incentives, without consequences, you know, we, we need to be able to make decisions that we can live with or functions and a lot of way.


(22:18) Lucas: I think that’s the essence of medical freedom right there, which is our macro topic for discussion today. And so this definitely will not be our last. Allison, I know that there’s multiple ways for people to connect with you and connect with your organization. We will make sure we put those in the show notes, because I know that there’s a number of people that are like, Hey, I want to know more about this, or, hey, I may disagree with that and I want to figure out some more things, or there’s some group of people that say, you know what? This is really interesting. I’ve been wanting to hear something about this for awhile. We invite all of those people to reach out to us to continue this conversation, because that’s really what we’re trying to do is have the conversation. So thank you, Allison for your time today.


Allison: Thank you for having me.


Lucas: Thanks to all of our listeners for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.

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183: Allison Serrao