Dear Senator Toomey

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.

Take a few minutes to read and share the TalkPoverty Weekly article about her and listen to her speech at a recent #TuesdayswithToomey event.

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.

Anti-Poverty Network Job Announcement – Executive Director

The Anti-­Poverty Network of New Jersey (APN) is seeking qualified applicants for the role of Executive Director.

Founded in December 1999, APN is a diverse and growing network focused on preventing, reducing, and ending poverty in New Jersey. APN is a state-­wide membership organization with both organizational and individual members. APN is seeking a dynamic individual to serve as its Executive Director. The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate interpersonal, organizational and management skills. A background in non-­profit operations and familiarity with poverty related issues is strongly preferred.

In order to meet the mission of the APN, the Executive Director will provide leadership, and help to organize and monitor all aspects of APN initiatives and activities. The Executive Director will also identify and implement enhancements to fund development, membership, awareness, surveys, advocacy and the overall brand/image.

This is a 30 hour a week position, with potential for additional hours. Bachelor’s degree and related experience required, Master’s degree preferred. The ideal candidate will possess knowledge of, and a passion for poverty reduction. A competitive salary, generous paid time off and health insurance stipend are offered.

A cover letter highlighting how the candidate’s experience, skill and vision would further the mission of APN, and a resume, should be sent to: jcampbell@antipovertynetwork.org.

APN is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.

This job announcement is also available on the APN website.

A full job description is available on APN’s website at http://www.antipovertynetwork.org/resources/Documents/APN%20ED%20Job%20Description%20.pdf.

Feel free to share the job description and job description with your network.

Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey – Poverty Summit

Earlier this week the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey sent out invitations to the Poverty Summit to be held May 21. Let me pass along the information so you can attend and join in the dialogue about poverty in New Jersey and what to do about it.

You are invited to The Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey’s POVERTY SUMMIT: A Call to Invest in the People of New Jersey.

Monday, May 21, 2012, 9:00AM – 12:30PM. War Memorial, Trenton, New Jersey.

The Summit will include reports on the current realities of poverty and income insecurity in New Jersey, with a special focus on Employment, Housing and Hunger.

Join community organizations, advocates, persons living in poverty, legislators, state officials and others in this dynamic dialogue.

12:30 Meet and Greet: An informal dialogue time for Legislators and Constituents

TO REGISTER: apnpovertysummit.eventbrite.com

Romney: “I’m not concerned about the very poor” Really?

Yesterday morning in a CNN interview Mitt Romney stated, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” To quote him precisely, the CNN story reads in part: “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” he said. “We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90%, 95% of Americans right now who are struggling, and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”

His comments need a little analysis. It annoys me enough that I am going to add my two cents not that I very often discuss politics per se on this blog. When a presidential candidate talks about a group – the very poor – and says what he says, people should speak up.

In the same interview, if not to add insult to injury, candidate Romney added that we have a “very ample safety net”, food stamps, and housing vouchers. Later, on his campaign plane while speaking – some call it damage control – to reporters he said that “we can talk about whether it (the safety net) needs to be strengthened or if there are holes in it.”

Someone needs to tell this candidate a few things. 1) The safety net needs mending. 2) The food stamp program is now known as SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 3) Yes, there are housing vouchers but there aren’t enough even to house all our homeless veterans. Mr. Romney, ask a family that has been on a waiting list with their local Housing Authority or Section 8 agency about how long it takes to get a housing voucher.

Last September the Census Bureau released a poverty report in which they reported 46 million people living in poverty in 2010. The number was the largest in the 52 year history of the poverty surveys.

We need candidates who will face the fact that we have income inequality in American. It is not a question if we need to fix the safety net. It’s a question of how we can rebuild and make everyone stronger. We can no longer tolerate a 281% increase in income among the top 1% while the bottom fifth’s income rises only 16% in the last 30 plus years. (Source: Congressional Budget Office. See www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12485 for additional proof.

Please wake up Mr. Romney.