Since our last article things have changed tremendously. We have seen a pandemic of epic proportions, Protests in our cities and towns over the inequities that have plagued our county since its’s inception. A major flood which ravaged communities in the Midland area. As we contemplate what our “new normal” may look like, it is a platform that is constantly in flux as new situations occur.
As it stands today the Capital Area United Way (CAUW) staff have been working remotely. For the most part this has taken some getting used to as was never in my “old normal.” We must pick our battles and continue to conduct our outreach in whatever manner that is safe and allows for the health of all those in consideration.
In order for our ability to have some form of sanity, we have been sending out a daily e-mail to those on our contact list with a variety of subjects, comments, recipes, and just to say that we are there.
The Capital Area United Way did establish an Emergency Relief Fund which has been helping with those impacted by the shutdown with rent, mortgage, utilities and in some cases child care in the Clinton, Eaton, & Ingham County areas. The community has been extremely generous in donating to the fund and hundreds of folks have been helped. If you know of anyone who may need that gentle help up, please have them call 2-1-1 and the call specialist will determine if they are eligible.
One of the CAUW areas that was impacted was the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The VITA programs engage the community who meet income guidelines with a volunteer trained by the IRS to handle their income taxes, then file them for free. With the shutdown the program was in a hold pattern, plus the building housing the program is owned by the City of Lansing, so they the building closed for the safety of all. If you are still looking for assistance here is a link for the service: https://www.micauw.org/free-tax-help
Another area hit was the Mystic Lake YMCA Camp. The camp and organized labor have had a partnership that dates back to the 1940’s. The Mystic Lake Union Camp Committee (UCC) has been a guiding light in the raising of funds for deserving kids with ties to unions to enjoy a week of camp. This is sometimes the only week many of these kids have for vacation. This was a particularly hard pill to swallow as I have had the honor and privilege to be the Cahir of the UCC for a number of years. Our sincere hope is to be back as strong as ever.
Another casualty was the last two sessions and the dinner for the annual community service classes. We attempted to ride the storm out, but in the interest of the safety for all the attendees and staff involved, we canceled the outreach. With almost 50% of the those attending new to the program it was disheartening to see if end too soon. With thirteen unions represented and over 50 registered it was another solid year nonetheless.
In closing with all that mentioned in the beginning of this piece, would like to revisit a quote from Samuel Gophers, the labor leader who spoke these words in 1893:
“What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful, and childhood more happy and bright.”
These words still ring true after 127 years. We offer a humble addendum to the above:
We want more equality and less hatred
We want more focus on our similarities and less focus on our differences
We want more peace and less violence
We want leaders who lead with strength and conviction and less who try to divide and conquer
This has not been easy for many of us. This has tested us in our collective conscience. Our sincere hope is that as we try to find that delicate balance of the “old and new normal” we can learn from this and venture forward in peace, understanding, and appreciation of all we have.
Be safe and may peace be with you