Voice of the Poor is the advocacy arm of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. With members representing every section and demographic of the nation, we identify those issues that are critical to those living in poverty and need, and help bring attention to them so communities and our elected representatives can help develop strategies and tactics that will provide the most effective and efficient means to reduce or eliminate poverty.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is concerned not only with alleviating need but also with identifying those structures, societal and legislative, that cause and perpetuate poverty.
This mission manifests itself in the Society’s admonition to “End Poverty Through Systemic Change.”
Serving as advocates for those living in poverty and representing them and their interests to our state and national legislators is a huge task. We spearhead that effort through Capwiz, an online system that allows members and supporters of the Society to reach out to lawmakers when there is legislative activity ― or lack of it ― that affects those living in poverty.
Sign-up below: http://www.capwiz.com/svdpusa/mlm/signup/
In November of 2015, after Illinois had been without a budget since July of 2015, SVDP VOP urged the Governor and House Speaker to work together to provide a just framework for the state budget. We still do not have a budget! Even with court orders, using cash reserves and limited access to loans, some human service agencies are on the brink of closing, some have closed or cut back services or consolidated in efforts to keep serving the poor, children, elderly and disabled of Illinois. The long term ramifications of this lack of funding are wide-spread and will be devastating to our communities. Please urge your State Senators and Representatives to work together to move the budget forward, protecting poor and vulnerable people from harmful budget cuts. You can find your legislators at www.il.gov
“Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right.” (USCCB Faithful Citizenship 2015). www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship
On March 7, 2017 SVDP participated in a joint letter from 40 faith-based organizations to legislators urging them not to pass “repeal and replace or delay” the ACA (Obamacare) as they contemplate the future of health care coverage in the US. They offered 10 priorities to meet for a faithful healthcare system. Our President Sheila Gilbert wrote, “As Vincentians who actually enter the homes of the needy…we see firsthand how important many parts of the Affordable Care Act are to those struggling to get by….It would be extremely counter-productive to withdraw that now without knowing what precisely would replace the Affordable Care Act. Our faith compels us to assure that health coverage is truly a right not denied on the basis of income or status.” You can access this 4 page letter at www.svdpusa.org under “society news.”
A capwiz alert “Protect the Health Care of Poor and Vulnerable Americans” can be found at www.capwiz.com/svdpusa/issue/alert. This letter has a link to studies on the effect of repealing the ACA and the SVDP Position Paper “Health Care for the Poor” http://www.svdpusa.org/members/Programs-Tools/Programs/Voice-of-the-Poor/Position-Papers
A quote from this paper: “Councils are asked to support and encourage federal, state, county and city efforts to extend meaningful health care benefits to the most vulnerable. There is no substitute for an involved, effective and committed government.”
For more information on health care, see the VOP webinar on Health Care and Catholic Social Teachings at www.svdpusa.org/members/Programs-Tools/Programs/Voice-of-the-Poor/What-Has-Been-Accomplished
On Feb. 4 we had a capwiz alert to “Protect Poor and Vulnerable Migrants and Refugees” asking our elected representatives to resist closing our country to refugees and immigrants in need, to pass the BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) Act and eventually to pass comprehensive immigration reform. “Vincentians render aid and seek justice because in our immigrant friends we see their inherent, God-given dignity as human beings.” You can access this letter and a Position Paper on immigration from the addresses given above for issue alert and position papers.
There is no SVDP VOP action on the recent Presidential budget proposal but we know that there are massive cuts in it to programs that help our people in need like Head Start, Child Care, LIHEAP, Nutrition programs under the Department of Agriculture, to name a few. In 2015, Sheila Gilbert, SVDP National President outlined the moral criteria to guide budgetary decisions:
- Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
- A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or living in poverty should come first.
- Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good for all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.
How can you make your voice heard?