Tag Archives: charity

Paul Ryan’s Not-So-Charitable Activity

16 Oct

Well, something in this kitchen is dirty…

It’s not unusual for politicians at every level of government to look for opportunities to show off their good works. They’ll pose with underprivileged kids, pound in a few nails for Habitat for Humanity, speak at a charitable conference, all sorts of things. Some of the resulting photos and news stories show real commitment to social change, some are casual photo ops. Rarely, however, are such things as contrived and ill-conceived as Paul Ryan’s recent moment of let’s pretend.

Last Saturday, the VP hopeful was campaigning in Youngstown, Ohio. One of his stops was at a soup kitchen, where he rolled up his sleeves and pitched in. Sounds great, right? The problem is, the meals had been served, the clients were gone, and the dishes were clean and put away. Ryan bullied his way into the kitchen by pressuring a volunteer and had his picture taken [wait for it] washing a clean pan. Apparently there were no charities in Youngstown that actually needed hope at that moment. Besides, it’s so much nicer dealing with volunteers in a clean kitchen than actually handling food near the >gasp< poor!

Sadly, Ryan’s “out damned spot” moment takes an even darker turn. The Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society that Ryan visited was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit. Brian Antag, president of the Society, was aghast and alarmed because his organization prohibits participation in political events.

We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations. It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there and they did not have permission. […] I can’t afford to lose funding from these private individuals. For us to even appear like we’re backing somebody, it’s suicide.

Yes, you read that correctly. Paul Ryan bullied a volunteer to enter a facility without permission to wash a clean dish for a handy campaign photo. While doing so, he caused the facility to violate its bylaws and potentially put its funding at risk. Way to care for the needy, Rep. Ryan. It’s not as though we need more evidence of the callous disregard the Romney/Ryan ticket has for anyone outside their lily-white Randian pillars of “justice.” Sadly, the proof just keeps coming, and let’s face it, Romney/Ryan is a dirt that just won’t wash clean!

The Closing of Hull House: Sad Commentary on Our Times

28 Jan

Goodbye Hull House

Yesterday was a very sad day indeed. Hull House, founded by Social Work Pioneer Jane Addams, closed it’s doors.  In 1931, Addams was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Addams may well be best known for starting Hull House in Chicago.  Here is the mission statement of Hull House:

Jane Addams Hull House Association improves social conditions for underserved people and communities by providing creative, innovative programs and advocating for related public policy reforms.

Jane Addams Hull House Association provides child care, domestic violence counseling and prevention, economic development, family services, job training, literacy training, senior services, foster care, independent living, and housing assistance for 60,000 children, families and community members each year in communities in and around Chicago.

Hull House also advocates for social and public policy reforms and initiatives that impact the lives of the men, women, and children in the communities we serve.

Now after 120 years, Hull House is closed.  It would be delightful to say that Hull House closed because services were no longer needed–that poverty and discrimination had ended.  Alas, that is so far from the truth.  The truth is that the need for services continued to increase exponentially, but sadly funding for Hull House decreased at an even faster rate.

What doses this say about American Culture?  We are witnessing multi-millionaires spending millions and millions of dollars to run for President of the United States, but we as a culture put up no resistance to social services for the poor and disenfranchised being cut by 1% Republicans like John Boehner.  As someone who is currently getting his MSW, I am horrified that Americans no longer seem engaged in the battle against the inequitable  distribution of power and wealth.  We seem to have grown either amazingly stupid or apathetic  as our silence and non-action, or voting against our best interests supports an all white, heterosexual, Christian, male power structure.

I leave you with the words of Jane Addams:

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.

Bigot of the Week Award: April 1

1 Apr

Bigot of the Week

What better way to celebrate April Fools’ Day than by recognizing one of America’s most notorious fools as our Bigot of the Week. This week’s honor goes to the nefaroius Donald Trump. While “The Donald” certainly has enough baggage in his bigot closet to have earned this award before, his recent hints about a run for the Presidency in 2012 have him all over the news, revealing his views in all their glory. Where does he stand on the issues?

  • Women’s Health: “I really have changed in my views over the years but I am pro-life.” The term is anti-choice, Mr. Trump.
  • Gun Control: Every “law-abiding” citizen should have all the guns they want. How many gun sights will go up on your campaign site, Donald?
  • Business Regulation: America should support business in every way and should be run like a business. (Just like those hotels you ran into bankruptcy?)
  • Marriage Equality: Chatting with Bill O’Reilly on FOX, he said, “I just don’t feel good about it. I don’t feel right about it…I’m opposed to gay marriage.” Because LGBTQ American’s don’t deserve the right to three successful marriages like his, right?
  • He’s also against foreign aid (Tough luck, Japan!), favors repeal of the Affordable Care Act (because he can afford any care he wants, right?), and likes to sue charities that raise money to block sex trafficking. Classy.

Pushing him over the top for this week’s award, however, is Trump’s pandering to the birther movement. In a blatant appeal to racism and Islamophobia, Trump has repeatedly lied about President Obama’s religion and birthplace. Ironically, the birth certificate that Trump provided to prove his good faith and citizenship was an obvious fake.

One of the great things about America is supposed to be that any citizen can dream of one day being President. In Donald Trump’s case, the great thing about democracy should be the voters lining up to tell him, “You’re fired!”

Wednesday Word of the Week: March 30

30 Mar

Repair The World

This week’s word is: CHARITY.

public provision for the relief of the needy – Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

In the wake of a tragedy like the Japanese tsunami, the interests of the American people turn to charity. Seeing horrors on that scale summons up a strong desire to help, to provide some form of relief. It happened during the Haitian earthquake, the Indonesian tsunami, and hurricane Katrina as well, at least to some extent. It can be wonderful to see this instinct to provide aid manifest itself.

If you’re like me, you may want to help but be unsure of the best way to make your contribution. With each disaster, a new flurry of websites, tweets, Facebook pages, and text-your-dollars options materialize. How can you know how that money will be spent? The best option for those inclined to give is to participate in a community of giving. Find a place that meets your goals and values and channel your contributions through that resource.

There are many ways to donate and contribute. A wise donor will plan in advance rather than waiting for a crisis. Knowing your options before-hand will prepare you to contribute in the most beneficial way when the time comes. When looking for an organization to serve as your charitable partner, there are a number of things to consider.

  1. Why do you give? If you have specific causes that you support, you should direct your giving accordingly. If you have a more general sense of charity and want a trusted partner to push your money in the right direction, totally different organizations will be appropriate. For most people, a mix of the two might make the most sense.
  2. What is your capacity for giving? Budgeting may not be fun, but it is very important. Have a sense of how much money you can give over the course of a year and develop a donation strategy that fits. This will help keep you from overextending yourself, force you to focus on the giving that is most important to you, and allow you to politely turn down solicitation calls. If an organization that appeals to you is not in your plan, you can always adjust or collect their information for another giving year.
  3. Who can support your intent to give? There are thousands of charitable organizations of all sizes, missions, and services. Finding the best match for your goals can be daunting. Do some research to find the best partner for your giving. Charity Navigator is a great resource for getting information. Your workplace may also have giving and matching programs; talk to your human resources officer. Your local library should be able to assist you as well.
  4. How much of your donation goes to your intended causes? No organization can give 100% of donations to the causes it supports. Running a strong charity requires staff, facilities, and fundraising; all of this costs money. From my quick research, any organization that returns 85% – 90% to the cause you support is doing well. You should also be aware of the status of your charitable partner. If it is not a certified not-for-profit organization, the 10% that doesn’t go to the cause may just be lining someone’s pocket.
  5. How do the values of your charitable partner align with yours? This is very important and not always apparent. Many charities are associated with religious organizations or other groups which may not share your values regardless of how well their official cause matches your donor intent. A great example is the Salvation Army. Although the work they do is valuable, they are virulently anti-equality toward the LGBT community. The United Way, for example, is much more open and supportive. That makes a difference to me in who will get my donations.

The best advice from most experts – both financial planners and charitable organizations – is to donate a comfortable amount regularly rather than make sporadic, responsive donations. This gives your charitable partner cash-on-hand to respond immediately to a disaster rather than waiting for money to flow in. Most reputable charities will have a way to donate additional money to a specific cause as needed. (The Red Cross is a great example.) Increasing your contribution to a trusted partner is a better option than impulsively clicking on any donation link that you might see. Sadly, many miscreants exist who would love to reroute your donations to their own pockets.

COMPASSION

sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress with a desire to alleviate it – Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary

Compassion is a wonderful human trait. When we respond emotionally to a crisis, however, it is worth stepping back and being sure that our giving has value.

  • There is always need. Find ways to give regularly to important causes.
  • When a disaster strikes, give in a smart, informed way.

Remember, too, that you can give in ways that don’t cost money. Give of your time and energy as well. Tikkun olam: Repair the world. Each of us should do what we can to make this a better world for everyone.

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