Friday, March 18, 2011
Doing our work...
There are always so many things to do and never enough time. Everybody, staff and volunteer get involved in the work. We all do meetings, we all do advocacy. So I am awfully grateful to have folks around who can pick up the work when it gets over whelming or when I am off at a meeting. In office advocacies are what we do the most. Some advocacies are faster than others. Maybe it's helping someone with a food stamp application or helping a tenant find what their rights. If we don't know we'll help find them, sometimes there is nothing we can do except say "It sucks, it's not fair and the only way to change it is to fight for change." A lot of people just need to know that they are in the right when they find themselves facing an injustice. Other advocacies take longer and others you just can't pass off.
So when on Wednesday a young woman came in for help in getting into shelter it was one of those the advocacies you have to follow to the end. Just a few particulars 23, mother of 2 (her children, because of her living situation are with their father, her ex) pregnant due date by C-section only 1 month away and for the last 4 nights slept in her car. She didn't make herself homeless it just happened and we all know that sometimes S&it Happens.
We heard a few weeks ago that "Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness" had endorsed the governor’s budget so when their next meeting rolled around last Tuesday, 4 of us decided to go. It's ironic because it's been a really busy couple of weeks here at Arise; we've been getting the word out about the governor’s budget cuts among other things. I don't pretend to understand all of it or even most of it, what I do understand is that these cuts will hurt everyone but the poor will feel it first and the most. There are so many cracks, crevasses and black holes in the budget that hundreds if not thousands of parents and children will end up on the streets and if these budget cuts were in place today this young woman would have fallen thru them.
We sat there for a while trying to get a feel for where their thinking was around the budget. We looked forward to hearing Leslie Lawrence from Mass. Coalition for the Homeless and Ruth Bourquin from Mass Law Reform Institute who had driven in from Boston to talk on the major lack of safety nets in the budget. What Ruth and Leslie had to say helped the group decide that maybe there needed to be some qualifications to the networks endorsement. It was a good meeting we heard a lot of different voices. We left knowing that there was room for change and isn't change what it's all about. So yea..I think it was a good meeting and hopefully we can have some input on those quailifications.
Anyway after another night in her car and me on the phone to Boston most of that afternoon and the next morning I'm glad to say she was placed in E.A. It feels good to succeed in helping her to get what she needed. But boy it can be like pulling teeth from a whale but that’s for another time.