Nonprofits and faith organizations step up to assist in times of need
Many people, nonprofits, agencies, programs and faith communities in the "servant" sector were stepping up to do what they do in emergencies—helping people through tough times—when the shutdown ended temporarily.
Many public servants, who are part of the infrastructure of helping the country function, were facing need for help through the shutdown. Federal government employees face missed paychecks and public assistance beneficiaries faced cuts.
In a late January press release, Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington announced it was ready to support those in the region affected by the shutdown, from "TSA agents at the Spokane International Airport to forest services in Okanogan County, public servants who work every day to keep people and the environment safe."
Missing paychecks, working and furloughed government employees had to decide what to pay—mortgages, rent, utility bills, medicines, food and other necessities.
Rob McCann, president of Catholic Charities, said the shutdown of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Agriculture Department, which operates SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, "puts thousands of our vulnerable neighbors at risk of homelessness and hunger."
Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, community centers, outreach ministry centers, food banks and faith communities are in place, as always, to make sure everyone has basics they need—housing, food and companionship. How long could they have helped without affecting their ongoing outreach?
Catholic Charities' Emergency Assistance can help with one-time housing, utility or fuel bills. It could assist with tenants' rights to help negotiate with landlords, as can the Tenants Union. Food banks were already helping families of federal employees and families on SNAP with food. Through more than 250 food pantries, meal sites and partners, Second Harvest helps feed people in need and was ready to assist those struggling in the shutdown.
With added demand for services in this time of increased need, nonprofit agencies need additional financial donations and volunteer assistance.
As we heard voices of people in the indigenous people's, women's and Martin Luther King Jr. marches, it's up to us to speak out, advocate for justice, love people and serve those in need in our families and communities. We advocate because government infrastructure has a crucial role in our lives, and the people in charge of running it day-to-day are public servants.
A question is: Do we want shutdowns or states of emergency to be the way the federal government makes policies?
Mary Stamp – editor
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, February, 2019