Fifteen Minutes a Week: An Appeal for Help
They are children and they are seniors.
They are minorities and they are white.
They are straight and they are gay.
They are college graduates and high school dropouts.
They are disabled or sick without insurance and they are healthy.
They are jobless without benefits and they are working one or more low-wage jobs.
They are mothers and fathers and they are sons and daughters.
They are devout believers in God and they are atheists.
They are conservatives and they are liberals.
They are recent immigrants and they are descendants of Mayflower families.
They are strangers and they are friends, relatives, neighbors.
They are invisible, yet they are hidden in plain sight.
They are the poor. They are one in eight of us nationally, but in Milwaukee, Philadelphia or Newark, the number is around one in four. In Detroit or Buffalo, the number is closer to one in three.
For middle class Americans today, a rapidly worsening economy threatens foreclosure, unemployment, lost health insurance, ambitions deferred, dreams abandoned. For over 36 million Americans, however, the crisis is already here.
The media, mainstream and alternative alike, have paid shockingly little attention to poverty in America. The same can be said of all but a few of our politicians.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has declared January "Poverty in America Awareness Month" with these stated goals:
· Releasing a powerful public service campaign to raise awareness of poverty in America.
· Encouraging the editorial media to focus on poverty.
· Educating the public to be sensitive to the needs of those in poverty and to treat poor people with respect.
· Holding events in Catholic schools and public settings to make sure poverty is top-of-mind for all Americans.
Whatever one's religious beliefs, or even if one has no religion, it's difficult to imagine anyone committed to social justice being unsympathetic to these aims.
On behalf of a group of DU members (all of whom, I hope, will add their comments here), I'd like to urge everyone to follow the example of the CCHD and devote some time in January to help raise awareness about poverty.
What can be done in fifteen minutes a week for four weeks?
Write to your local newspaper, write or call your elected representatives and, perhaps most importantly, contact President Elect Obama to help ensure that his vision for change includes addressing poverty, hunger and affordable housing as the urgent issues they are.
Can fifteen minutes a week of our time really help? There's only one way to find out.
Please consider making this effort your resolution for a truly New Year. January marks a new beginning for the nation after eight long, terrible years. Let's do what we can to make it a new beginning for the poor as well.