"You cease being good when you stop getting better"
The sentiment behind it permeates every aspect of my values, goals and personal mission in life. I heard this quote a little over a year during my time in Phoenix, Arizona as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. To me, it seems clear - perpetual improvement and advancement are healthy in order to remain relevant and be a strong competitor. But I think it also speak to the core purpose of society and the mission behind this experience - to realize that we, as a whole, are not well into each and every one among us has the ability and opportunity to live to their fullest potential. No one should have to live under the immensely soul crushing weight of poverty, hunger and homelessness with absolutely no viable escape, especially when they are working hard to be a productive member of society.
But that isn’t reality.
This knowledge was reaffirmed through IMPACT:Seattle, however, and perhaps more consequential, these are problems with an array of absolute solutions. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to capture the full spectrum of challenges to a fit society, but that’s what makes the work of the people I met this weekend so grand and important and impacting. Collective efforts ensure that problems are fully addressed and that no one slips through the cracks.
Everyone can be a part of the solution. Volunteer at your local shelter or community garden. Sit on your child’s school board. Give your spare pocket change to a cause you care about once a month. These things add up, quite a bit. Although INPACT:Seattle has come to a close, I am looking forward to seeing how I can bring a combination of Operation Sack Lunch and Marra Farm into my community by forging partnerships between the KC community garden network and KC food pantries and feeding programs.
So, it’s this understanding that I intend to take home with me this week and carry with me throughout my life. Who is down to join me?
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. By far my favorite learning experience. It’s great to see the work others are doing to make the world a better place with the high level support of the Gates family. (at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center)
Day one has officially come to a close!Our first taste of IMPACT was with Operation Sack Lunch. We spent yesterday evening working the dining hall at their downtown center. I think it was a good experience for everyone, especially me. I will say it was definitely outside of my normal volunteer wheelhouse, which is what I want. After we served dinner, we got the chance to sit down and talk with a few of the men that were there as well as the program coordinator and chef behind the evenings meal. This, of course, was wonderful because I got to connect with the people I was helping and learn about their life experiences. One gentleman I spoke with brought focus to fact that anyone can end up in his position by making just a few wrong choices. I have to say that I do and have agreed with him about this for quite some time. This is one of the aspects I most enjoy about being an American - social mobility. However, it’s both puzzling and frustrating that one of my countries greatest assets is also its largest ailment. I say this because I feel that in far too many cases, it’s much easier to descend to an unsavory place in life than it is to rebound or even ascend to a place of stability and prosperity. I agree that people should be held accountable for their decisions, but after a certain point it seems wholly unfair that one mistake can lock a person into a certain sect of society despite all his/her following hard work to correct that wrong and move to a brighter spot. And I guess this, in some ways, denotes the importance of safety net programs. I understand and agree that individuals must be held accountable for their decisions, but I feel that everyone should have access to basic necessities like food and shelter, regardless of what life choices they’ve made. Additionally, I think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The premise of which is that secure access to basic necessities like food, water and shelter act as a stable footing that affords individuals the capacity to focus on higher level needs like introspection and contribution to society as a whole. That’s why the issue of hunger and poverty bother me so greatly because I think about how they limit one’s access to this capacity, especially children who have little to no control over their environment in this regard. Not only is it disheartening to picture people living without basic necessities, it limits the collective greatness of society because fewer and fewer people are afforded the capacity to contribute to the greater good of society. So. The impetus. End hunger not just because its morally objectionable to let your fellow citizens starve, but because it practically creates a better environment for you and society as a whole. The solution. Perhaps better safety net programs, a living wage to eliminate the phenomenon of “working poor,” and better educational systems that prepare youth to successfully rise into the ranks of the financial fit and prosperous.
View from the room! (at Belltown)
Another snowy day up north! Just one more plane trip til the adventure begins! (at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP))
Today is the big day - about to board the flight for IMPACT: Seattle.
I can’t fully explain the mixture of emotions I am feeling, but I do know that excitement, gratitude, and a desire to learn more about strategies to end poverty and hunger in the US are among the highlights.
I’ve been pouring over all of the websites for the organizations we will be working with to learn as much as I possibly can before I touch down in Seattle. From the looks of it, we are going to be working alongside some great community advocates. I’m particularly interested to learn more about Operation Sack Lunch. To my knowledge, my home community has nothing like this! It’ll be great to see the project in action.
I am also looking forward to meeting my IMPACT buds! I can’t wait to learn from each and every one of them. I have a very strong feeling that this is going to be an amazing adventure.
A snazzy way to cloth the homeless - plan a clothing swap donation party!
Working Poor - An individual who maintains regular employment but falls below the poverty line.