Leon Reed shares the results of recent studies on poverty in Adams County and Pennsylvania to help answer why poverty prevails in the U.S. even when the economy has flourished. The definition of poverty now includes single persons making $20,000 or less and a family of four making $59,000 or less. He observes that the two fundamental issues are jobs and housing. In the justice system, the poor who get charged with misdemeanors have difficulty making bail and paying fines, resulting in their return to prison. Meanwhile, federal and state funding has dropped drastically to the point where programs that help are being curtailed or shut down.
Kate Braband, Senior Associate Director of Program Development, Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia describes the success that the Carter Center, initiated thirty years ago by President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, has had in controlling guinea worm, one of the more painful and debilitating of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (WTD) in Central Africa. Not long ago, cases numbered in the thousands; today in the twenties. Guinea worm is controlled, not by vaccinations, but by changes in behavior, especially drinking filtered water. Education and supervision are largely in the hands of the locals. Other projects by the Carter Center derive from their mission of building hope, restoring health, and fighting for peace. To achieve these goals, the Center enlists national governments, the United Nations, and international corporations.
In this second interview, Leon Reed, former aide to Senator William Proxmire, suggests what we can expect from the new Congress in the next two years, although he admits that many of these ideas will not necessarily be approved by the Senate or signed by the president. In addition to continuing investigations into election interference, campaign reform, the tax bill, minimum wage, and “Obamacare,” he recommends two areas and two committees to watch. 1) In the Agriculture Committee, the pros and cons of tariffs. 2) In Homeland Security Committee, facts and figures about border security; the effect of global warming on the economy; and the disaster in Puerto Rico.
Megan Shreve, CEO, South Central Community Action Programs, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania talks housing on this episode of the Seminary Explores. The “Wage Gap,” perhaps the most significant contribution to the housing crisis, occurs when a working family on minimum wage does not qualify for aid, but doesn’t have enough to cover the necessities of food, health, transportation, and child care. In addition, declining resources from state and federal governments are threatening even the most basic programs such as overnight shelters. SCAAP has created two innovative, and biblical, programs that involve community resources. “Support Circles” provide dinner and child care as well as action strategies to rise out of the gap. “Gleaning” allows families to harvest agricultural products that growers can’t market.
Carla Christopher, a student at United Lutheran Seminary and a former Poet Laureate of York, Pennsylvania, talks about how we can have difficult conversations around challenging topics by creating a safe space where people can engage with one another and feel safe to be human. Conversations about race, diversity, and a gender can be difficult, but there are resources available to help any group or organization, no matter how small, to begin to share their life experiences with one another.
Dr. Dennis Onieal discussed the events of 9/11 as a first responder. the former head of the Jersey City Fire Department and currently Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator for the U.S. Fire Administration, was called to help following the attack. He discussed the clean-up effort and the responsibility of civilians during such a crisis. He called attention to the issues that were not publicized but essential in the recovery effort. In addition, he talked about the post-9/11 changes in instruction for policemen, firefighters, etc. in responding to attacks. In addition, he shared how he handled his own feelings after working at the 9/11 site.
Kim Davidson, Director, Center for Public Service, Gettysburg College, recently returned from a study tour of El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico maintains that current policy toward Mexican and Central American immigrants is based on racism, and that it is made more acute by the lack of transparency in the practices of I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). She suggests several things that advocates can do, including making their voices heard and providing legal services to those wrongly detained.
United Lutheran Seminary Master of Divinity student Michael McMullen shares his ministry of providing liturgical robes to pastors, choirs and other organizations in need through the non-profit organization Robe Gifting International. Based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Robe Gifting International collects, refurbishes and distributes used liturgical robes around the globe to those in need at no cost.
Justine Odila talks about his journey from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States. While in the Congo, he worked to help child soldiers to return to school, their families and mental stability as well as helping other young children to not become soldiers in the first place. This work resulted in him being arrested but he escaped to Zambia where he lived in a refugee camp for 17 years where he carried assisting those around him. After a 5-year vetting process, he was finally able to come to the United States via a resettlement program. He presently works at Walmart, works part-time as a mental health counselor, and attends classes at the community college.
To learn more about the Democratic Republic of the Congo you can begin here:
Mark Jalbert, Director of Bakewell Farm, shares his love of bread and explores ways that Bakewell Farm is using bread to build community. From the science of fermentation to sharing a loaf with a neighbor or those in need. You can almost smell the loaves come out of the oven.