May 20, 2010

Building a Human Safety Net

Standing at the Wilson building today, chanting phrases like “Save Our Safety Net,” holding a net, and the hands of fellow advocates from across the city, I felt renewed in my commitment to serving my clients each day. I have journeyed this year with clients like Mr. S., Ms. N., and Mr. K. I have sat down with them, listened to their stories, and together, we have gone to their Social Security disability hearings hoping to win them Social Security benefits. Each day at Bread for the City, I meet with walk-ins and take calls from many people across the city calling because they have found themselves in need of an attorney. I have listened to their stories and have seen the effects of both personal choices and structural inequalities.

In the last month, the Wilson building has become quite familiar to me. Together with Eli and Legal Clinic for the Homeless attorney Scott McNeilly, we have gone door to door to Council Members, asking them to reconsider the proposed cuts to IDA, the program our SSI clients need to survive each month. I have helped the Fair Budget Coalition plan a budget briefing on housing, and have attended a previous rally urging City Council members to vote for progressive tax reform so that our social safety net services might be spared in the $500 million of proposed budget cuts this year.

Today felt different than those previous visits to the Wilson building. Today we stood, holding hands and nets, circling the entire building. This literal joining of hands, the literal act of building a human safety net, was a public testament of how important these services are to our clients. It is more than just about progressive tax increases or fighting for what I believe is right. It’s about making sure our clients can simply live.

Standing around the Wilson building, seeing familiar faces of the advocates I’ve met this year, holding hands and passionately chanting, my heart was flooded with emotions of connection, passion, dedication, and increased vigor. I felt a sense of renewal and recommitment. I am here for my clients, and for the ways we are growing together.

For more information about the Save Our Safety Net Campaign or for more pictures of this rally, please click here.

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