By Randi Schmidt Director of Economic Empowerment Policy, YWCA USA
When I was attending graduate school, I interned at the YWCA Madison (Wis.), which served homeless and low-income women and their families, and many elderly or disabled populations. We worked with women whose economic security was fragile at best.
One day, a local restaurant dropped off leftover food at the YWCA to share with our residents. After we arranged the aluminum foil containers on our front desk counter, we notified the residents that food was available in the lobby. The next thing I remember is a line of women between the ages of 40 and 70 with mental and physical disabilities, standing in line near the front desk counter and holding plastic containers. I can still recall how excited and grateful these women were for leftover food. They stood in line talking excitedly about how they were looking forward to the food and I remember them thanking us. I have never been as humbled by anything as I was that day.
I vowed to always fight for those women who, day in and day out, struggle to make it and don’t ask for much, yet who are so grateful for what they do get. And, right now, I’m thinking of the women who rely on YWCAs across the country, as the budget and tax debate unfolds in Washington. It makes me sad and sometimes angry that members of Congress are refusing to help 98% of families in this nation, even as they publicly agree that it is the right thing to do.