…a message from Executive Director Marsha Eichelberger
A few years ago, I read an article by Linda Tirado entitled “Why Poor People Stay Poor: Saving Money Costs Money, Period.” In it, the author discusses how life’s little annoyances actually ruin your life when you don’t have money. She’d lost cars, jobs and apartments because of things that would be mere inconveniences to most of us and makes some great points on the realities of pulling oneself up by bootstraps.
I’ve been thinking about this lately after one of our former residents nearly lost her job over some of those annoyances. She had to take two days off work during the holidays; one to deal with childcare and another to spend the day at the doctor’s office. Though she’d had permission, she came dramatically close to unemployment. But what, I wondered, was her alternative? Our families have become very adept at navigating complex systems but there’s a point at which everyone becomes overwhelmed. A little thing- like an unexpected trip to the doctor, a slight increase in gas prices or SEPTA rates or even a change in bus routes can have devastating consequences. Things that we see on the news and shake our heads at leave our families truly shaking. It’s not just the immediate effects either- the constant barrage of life-changing events leaves them in a perpetual state of flux, ever searching for their mooring and a way to make their children’s lives better.
The staff and volunteers of Inter-Faith Housing Alliance do more than temporarily help the families in our program. We’re not only assisting them with housing; we’re not just educating and counseling, we’re advocating. We’re a voice for the voiceless, and we’re asking you to do the same. We CAN create real change for families in our program and around the country. We can help those around us understand the trials and character of the working poor, and we can help those in power become more aware of their constituents’ plight. Regardless of who is in office, our elected officials are honor and duty bound to hear us. Talk to them! Visit https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials, find your representatives and call or write their local offices. An aide will answer the local office phone and open US mail, then someone will respond to you. It’s surprisingly easy to make these calls, and we’ve always found local staffers to be polite and knowledgeable.
There is a lot going on in the world today. There is a lot of hateful rhetoric, a lot of fear and a lot of blame- assigning. Let’s change that conversation. Let’s inform the uninformed. Let’s be the voices of kindness, concern, and empathy for all people- no matter how they look, how they spend or how they vote. As we just celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, let’s remember his words: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Don’t be silent- speak up. Know what really matters.
Executive Director Marsha Eichelberger