A dramatic speech was given this month by an advocate at a ‘Tuesdays with Toomey’ event in Philadelphia. Myra Young provides the human side to the story of why there are demonstrations all across the United States. There are millions of Myra Young’s in our country, all struggling to make ends meet, all wondering how they will put food on the table, all living paycheck to paycheck.
The following is a version of Ms. Young’s remarks made on February 7, 2017. The comments should be intended to every United States Senator and Representative. Send a copy to your elected officials.
Dear Senator Toomey,
You don’t know me. You have never met me, or answered any of my calls. But you have power and influence over my life—and my children’s well-being—and that scares me.
So Senator Toomey, let me introduce myself: My name is Myra Young. I’m a mother, an advocate, and I live in poverty.
I work hard to take care of my family. For the last 22 years I worked as a certified nursing assistant, but I still lived in poverty and needed government assistance to put food on the table and to keep my kids healthy. Two months ago, the company I worked for closed and I was laid off. Now without my job, my struggle is even more difficult. I only receive $33 a month in food stamps—barely enough to get my family through one healthy meal. My kids need fruit and vegetables, but I simply cannot afford them.
Last week, my 10-year-old son asked, “Mom, why do you cry so much?”
I told him, “Because I want to take care of you and your sister, but it’s so hard.”
But why is it so hard, Senator?
It’s hard because wages are too low.
It’s hard because we have to beg for scraps when we need help.
And it’s hard because of politicians like you, Senator Toomey.
You have everything I want: a safe home to go to, a job that pays a good wage, and a family in good health. But you want to take away the little bit I have by
cutting programs that help me — and people like me — feed my family. That hurts us. That keeps us down. And that makes me angry.
You are wrong, Senator Toomey.
You are wrong if you don’t protect these programs.
You are wrong if you don’t care about my family.
Would you be able to survive one week in my shoes? Would you be able to manage the daily struggle of trying to feed your family? Manage the stress of not knowing if you will be able to pay rent for the month? Manage the fear that your child may need health care that you cannot afford?
If I were in your shoes, and had the power to help a mother with two disabled children, I would do it. I would make sure she has the services she needs to care for her family. I would take care of the more than 1.6 million people in Pennsylvania who live paycheck to paycheck.
Senator Toomey, as a member of Witness to Hunger, my sisters and I will continue to speak out and fight for the needs of our children, families, and communities.
It’s your responsibility to do the same.