Activists Ready Recipes For Bread, Not “Crumbs”
by Allan Appel | Sep 7, 2012 8:40 am
Posted to: Social Services
Lee Parker added kosher salt to a recipe Thursday night—to represent one of the ingredients he needs to be self sufficient: decent public transportation back from his late night job at Walmart.
For years, Parker (pictured), who has a mental illness and lives in subsidized housing through Fellowship Place, had either to leave work 15 minutes early, angering his boss, or wait an hour and a quarter for the late night bus to get home. Recently he got hold of a 22-year-old Honda, so his transportation problem is solved. For now.
Parker told his story at an organizing meeting of the No More Crumbs Coalition at the community room at the main branch library Thursday night. He has told it before to state legislators in Hartford, when coalition organizers Merryl Eaton and Paola Serrecchia brought a busload of Lees to testify to the grassroots needs of poor people.
Thursday’s event—a “recipe” sharing of personal policy prescriptions—aimed to recruit and to train more people to testify so real-life stories can inform policy.
“I want to be sure that our [legislative policy] agenda reflects what people really need,” said Eaton. She works at Christian Community Action ; Serrecchia is a family outreach worker at the Clifford Beers Guidance Clinic. The coalition is their own grass roots advocacy project, but it has the blessing of their agencies, said Eaton.
Parker stood in front of a table full of bread loaves and the sugar, salt, baking soda, flour, and other bread-making ingredients. He said the ingredients symbolized affordable housing, health and day care, and other essentials needed to make a full loaf; read a self sufficient life for poor people in New Haven.
Eaton (pictured) brings the dough to Hartford each year on a table set up to lobby for government support for “wrap-around” services. The gag is the bread. The gag works, she said.
“This is what it would be like when we go to the Capitol. They [the legislators] like the smell of the bread. We tell them: If you take away one of the ingredients, you can’t make bread,” she said.
Another speaker Thursday night, Kim Hart, described a job-training program for a certified nursing assistant at which she excelled and graduated. Yet when she was directed to apply for a job, she was told that as a convicted felon she would not be eligible even to apply. “What good is that training ... for no jobs!” she declared.
A possible new recruit who came forward was Amevi Douaguibe. A soft-spoken immigrant from the African nation of Togo, she works only 20 hours a week as a home health aide; she would like more hours or a better job. She has had no luck so far. She is studying at Gateway Community College. “I have a baby, school, everything is so high. I can’t afford my rent,” she said.
She questioned whether requesting to double the minimum wage, for example, might backfire and result in other needed supports being withdrawn.
“So maybe the answer is not to do that, but have more affordable housing,” said Serrecchia, and wrote that suggestion down on the blackboard.
It takes $22 an hour in wages to afford a modest apartment in New Haven, Eaton said. Even two people working together at minimum wage don’t make that, Eaton added.
“Life is not working for too many people in Connecticut. I like to do the math with legislators,” she added.
Douaguibe said she will consider going to Hartford in the spring with Merryl Eaton and No Crumbs. Between now and then additional organizing and recruiting meetings are being scheduled. Contac Merryl Eaton (203-777-6072) or Paola Serrecchia (203-777-8648).
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