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I am writing after seeing a segment on a Sunday morning TV show about a "grow clinic". It seems to be another case of ignoring our children; not the clinic but the problem the clinic faces, especially with the budget cuts coming. Do not the people and politicians know they are hurting the children when they try to change the welfare system? I grew up on welfare with a disabled mom. I have yet to read the book Tyranny of Kindness. The whole attack on the welfare system because of a few bad apples makes me feel insulted. Plus the pidly stipends given do not, in any way unless someone is destitute, help people out of the welfare predicament. I guess you have heard all this before.

My question is what can someone with no money do to help (besides vote). I see the large problems in the city but choose to live rurally. How does one help people help themselves? I want to work with children but the schools seem to want parents and grandparents. My other issue is that I do not know where I am going to live month to month, year to year, so I have yet to be a "Big Sister". Any suggestions? People suggest I get 'out of myself' and help others and I want to 'work' with younger populations. Please respond. Also you can post this if you would like. - Cheryl

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM and for speaking out against the welfare cuts. I, too, find myself screaming at the TV or the newspaper--"you don't get it." Unfortunately, the majority of those who make decisions about how federal money--and energy and time--will be spent don't know what it is like to be discriminated against--pushed out of the system. Likewise they don't understand that the people aren't the problem, but the process is the problem. I think anyone would agree that welfare isn't the perfect solution--at least as it is currently being run--but it's better than what has been presented as an alternative.

In terms of doing more--remember that voting is the beginning not the end. The assumption that voting is "enough" is often what gets us into these predicaments, because we cast our votes and sit back and wait for promises to be kept. In the meantime the ultra-right wing calls, mails, lobbys consistently to get their message across. And they have been successful even though only about 1/3 of the country falls into this category. So one of the things that you can do, is to keep on top of your politicians about upcoming legislation; make them accountable.

I don't where you live, but there is a great organization in Seattle, Washington--Walk A Mile (4101 15th Avenue, NE, Seattle, WA 98105-6299; #206-543-3027; Contact: Natasha Grossman). This groups works to link politicians with welfare recipients as a way of educating the politicians about what it's like to live on welfare---maybe start a similar group in your area.

Also, I think the model that has been used primarily by Native Americans in this country and by poor women around the world, particularly in India and Bangladesh, through the Grameen Bank are great examples. Much of this work is based on micro-lending programs to help poor people, particularly women, to start their own business. Many groups in this country are beginning to take this same approach. Similarly, many private foundations and organizations are working to create job training programs for women on welfare to fill in the void of the government. Working with any of the above could be a start.

I hope that the above is helpful--good luck to you and thank you for working to make sure that the welfare system works.


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