Friday, October 26, 2012

Circle of Protection Campaign-Office Visits: Voices Beyond the Vote

(Editor's Note:  Participants in the Circle of Protection Vigil on Oct. 11 signed letters to the candidates for the First Congressional District and the Senate urging them to protect funding for programs that affect poor and hungry people in our country and overseas.  On Wednesday, Oct. 24, a handful of  anti-hunger advocates delivered those letters to the campaign headquarters of First Congressional District Candidates Janice Arnold-Jones and Michelle Lujan Grisham and Senate candidates Martin Heinrich and Heather Wilson.  This was the action that followed our evening of  reflection and prayer Here is a piece from Bread advocate Ellen Buelow about those visits).

Front: Joan Brown, Karen Golis, Annie Olsen (Heinrich staff), Loretta Sanchez, Betty Drobnik. Back: Will Drobnick, Ellen Buelow
The Voices Beyond the Vote
By Ellen Buelow

A meeting with Rachel Hadland of the Arnold-Jones' campaign
Voting as an advocate for those who struggle with hunger carries a heavy responsibility. Listening to the Voice of God's Spirit and allowing that Spirit to speak in the midst of the present political turmoil is no easy task.

When our small group decided to visit the candidates for the New Mexico First Congressional District and the U.S. Senate, we came equipped with the fruit of our city wide prayer vigil and letters of petition with 25 to 30 signatures each. 

Strengthening our commitment was a bond of JustFaith formation and supportive prayer, but most of us were new to Congressional visits.

With Bryce Dustman of the Wilson campaign
Sister Joan Brown, a Franciscan, executive director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, is a frequent advocate for environmental justice, and she encouraged us to share our stories.

Betty and Will Drobnick are JustFaith Coordinators for the Santa Fe Diocese. Betty shared her past work experience with clients applying for food stamps emphasizing the majority were working families. Will related his volunteer work at St. Felix Food Pantry in Rio Rancho.

Karen Golis mentors women leaving prison, and recently participated in Family Promise, a safety net for recently homeless families organized by Albuquerque churches. Holy Rosary Catholic Community, home parish for three of us, is part of this ministry.

With Dominic Gabello of the Lujan Grisham campaign
Loretta Sanchez, a member of the Holy Rosary  social justice group, volunteers with Albuquerque Interfaith. Loretta shared AIF's Work Force Ready, where immigrants attain skills needed in the workplace: GED, computer training, and filling in a job resume.

Ellen Buelow volunteers with Catholic Charities Refugee Relief Services and the School Readiness Program. Ellen related her observations of a Somali teenager who suffers from early malnutrition that led to retardation. Climate change in Africa, drought and food shortages combine to uproot African refugees.

Larry Buelow, a volunteer with Catholic Charities who tutors refugee teens in science and math, shared his experience as Congressional liason with Lockheed Martin. Larry noted that advocacy for poor and vulnerable people has traditionally not carried the same weight as providing jobs.

As we shared the stories and voices heard in our ministries, we realized synergy and strength of the voice of God’s Spirit in this witness. Although the impact of this witness isn’t apparent now, we wait expectantly for our Candidates to use our stories and create positive change for the people of New Mexico.

(Photos Courtesy of Ellen Buelow)

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