Why you should care about the Illinois state budget cuts for the poor
Maybe I’ve just been alive during an incredibly depressing quarter century, but it seems like every year, we have the same fight: budget deficits and service cuts to the most vulnerable.
Politicians say they’re not at fault – something’s gotta give. People in poverty and the nonprofits that help them beg to keep the funding they need to keep going.
What’s missing? The rest of us.
While politicians whine and service providers rally their troops, those of us who don’t need homeless shelters, housing assistance, food pantries, mental health care, or job training sit idly by and watch this yearly drama play out.
We don’t get involved because we’re fortunate enough not to have to care. But we should care. And not just because it’s kind or caring or compassionate of us. We need those social services to keep helping people, or they’re going to have a huge impact on us.
The public perception tends to be that social services are giving handouts, sustaining families in poverty who don’t want to work for a living. But a lot of these social services are run by private nonprofit organizations that offer creative solutions to people who really need help and want to work for it.
Don’t believe me? Listen to Michelle’s story:
Did you hear her? Once someone was willing to help her, she was willing to do the hard work it takes to get off the streets and make a life for a family.
Now she works in a real job – not just flipping burgers – but helping children with their school work. She’s off the streets, not using social services, paying taxes and giving back to her community by engaging with kids.
What more could we want as a society?
That’s the kind of stuff that won’t happen if we cut these programs. It’s not cuts to families who don’t want to work. It’s cuts to families that desperately need help and would be productive, contributing citizens if only they could get in a place where they can actually move forward.
That’s why you should care. Because if programs like Heartland’s are cut, the only thing left that will be funded is regular welfare, which often doesn’t encourage people to move forward. These creative, intelligent programs that actually motivate people will be gone, and with them, the promise of people like Michelle being able to move forward.
After all, it’s in your self interest.
And you can brag to your friends about how kind, compassionate and caring you are.