I just finished an enjoyable Thanksgiving with my homeless and social work friends at the Vineyard Church Thanksgiving celebration. I really enjoyed touching base with my friends from Camp Take Notice, Groundcover News vendors, the church staff from Vineyard Church’s Homeless Ministry and various other like-minded social workers. It was very much like a family reunion.
Amidst all this fun and joy, I found a very dark cloud beginning to affect my friends and me. Nearly half of us, homeless and low income alike, have lost our food stamps. Those that used to give so freely and readily to homeless ministries like Vineyard have less to give. Vineyard only had enough food to feed everyone once, with few leftovers for those in need.
I talked to a few of the homeless ministry volunteers, and I learned even the canned goods they give out at their weekly “Pizza in the Park” homeless outreach has taken a serious hit.
Part of these hits come from Governor Rick Snyder by upping students’ tuition, cutting funding to schools, closing schools down, taking food stamps away from people who need them and destroying unions. And Ann Arbor’s own mayor belittles the poor and homeless by trying to keep them away from parts of Main Street.
Instead of offering our homeless population a hand up, we are sweeping them under the rug, out of sight and out of mind. The homeless who are doing something with their lives by going back to school to become contributing members of society again are having their food stamps taken away.
Governor Snyder seems to be sending the message of, “Who cares if their school has no offerings of food plans? We will cut them anyway. They were homeless before, so they know how to find food in dumpsters.”
I believe it is time for a change. We need to organize our efforts. You want Snyder gone? Network, and have petitions circulating at the start of next semester at all our community colleges, as well as Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University, and University of Michigan. Go to homeless shelters, register the people there to vote and have them sign petitions. Go to elementary, middle and high schools during parent teacher conferences to get even more signatures. Try occupying Lansing in front of the governor’s mansion.
For those of you uncomfortable with being on the front lines of fighting to help those around you, donate your time to help with serving food at Delonis Center, or Vineyard Church or some other organization. Donate whatever you can to help.
No matter how small, even if it is nothing more than a can of food a week or a month, every little bit helps. Give just a few seconds of your time to sign a petition. We can make things better but not without your help.