Sunday, May 15, 2011

¡Qué Viva Bread in Las Cruces!

Members of JustFaith class write letters.  Photo by LaVerne Kaufman
More often than not, whenever we write about Bread for the World activities in this space, we tend to focus on Albuquerque and sometimes Santa Fe. I want to take this opportunity to celebrate some great efforts by Bread members in Las Cruces. These include a visit to Sen. Tom Udall's office, led by Ellen Young of Peace Lutheran Church, and an Offering of Letters in a JustFaith class at the cathedral parish (Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church).

The Lobby Visit
A five member delegation (Ellen Young, Carol Eggers, Clarice Irons, LaVerne Kaufman, Nadine Salak) met with Xochitl Torres-Small, field representative for Sen. Udall in Las Cruces. By all accounts, the visit was a success because the delegation (also members the Peace Lutheran Church Hunger and Justice Committee), very successfully brought up two issues that are very important to Bread this year. First, we don't want to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, and secondly, we must preserve foreign aid and make it more effective. More importantly, they emphasized that foreign aid programs benefit children around the world, and making cuts would be detrimental in the long run.

The delegation also brought up related comments and questions, such as urging Sen. Udall not to turn important federal programs into block grants for states. The group also spoke about the budget as a moral document and the recent fast by Bread President David Beckmann and others, including some members of Congress. "We all felt this was a good beginning in our efforts to be more proactive with our Congressional delegation," said Ellen Young.

Letters at JustFaith Class
The JustFaith class at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish decided to make Bread for the World and our Offering of Letters the focus of one of its last meetings of the year. Many of the members did not know much about Bread except in the context of the materials provided through the class. So they invited LaVerne Kaufman to speak to them on May 4. In her presentation, she mentioned that Bread is one of six full members of JustFaith, she gave the class basic information about Bread and mentioned some of our legislative victories. And finally, she gave them information about this year's Offering of Letters, including the video.

The class concluded by writing letters to Congress around our OL. The class ended up writing a total of 40 letters, includng 13 each to Rep. Steve Pearce and Sen. Tom Udall and 14 to Sen. Jeff Bingman.  "Most people were enthused about writing the letters," said  Marcy García, a facilitator for the JustFaith class.  But many wrote them at home rather than during the class.  "Because we were writing them in the class (timeframe) they felt rushed. So they took the letters home," she said.

As of today, May 15, three Offerings of Letters had been completed.  Of that total of 158 letters, 99 letters came from Las Cruces!  That is about to change, since four churches in Albuquerque were scheduled to write letters today.  One of those churches was continuing its OL next week.

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