Over the summer I was invited with other candidate hopefuls to meet with Kevan Franklin of Trinity United Church of Christ, to discuss their mission with the poor, including their breakfast program which they serve Monday – Friday from 8-9:30am. This largely unheralded program serviced about 17,000 breakfasts last year, made possible with donations from the congregation, other local churches and some local business help. We heard stories of people who have fallen or are falling through the cracks of society, in the name of smaller government, and less taxes. The presentation was both heartfelt and informative. It is my hope that I will be in a position to sponsor legislation that will help people who are living on the margins.

For too long we have cut social programs in order to reward corporations, stockholders, and the very rich with tax cuts in the failed belief that those cuts will trickle down and help society in general. It amazes me how quickly we pass judgment on the poor and some tend to dump on the class below. We label the poor lazy, undeserving, or somehow just gaming the system. Yet we don't look above. “In between 1978 and 2014, inflation-adjusted CEO pay increased by almost 1,000%, according to a report released by the Economic Policy Institute. Meanwhile, typical workers in the U.S. saw a pay raise of just 11% during that same period. With these increases in mind, it should come as no surprise that the ratio between average American CEO pay and worker pay is now 303 to 1, however in 1965, (you know, that time period some people are so fond of looking back on to prove how great America used to be), the ratio was just 20 to 1.” So now you ask me why a CEO can rationalize such obscene greed, and I say to you, look no further than your own preconceived notion of the poor. To the top 1%, you are undeserving and lazy. Now that is something that upsets me, and it should upset you as well.

Money magazine just named Wooster the 37th best place in the United States to live. We are lucky and should be proud of that. Still for those living in poverty, Wooster and Wayne county can be just as brutal as any other place to live. What is truly scary is just how many of us who live paycheck to paycheck, are just one serious extended illness, or one life-changing accident away from living in poverty ourselves.

We allow people in our society to fall through the cracks everyday because we believe it couldn't happen to us. For one minute close your eyes and think of your life, home, and family. Now imagine what that might look like a year or two from now if your family's highest earner couldn't work due to a sudden accident or illness. You or your spouse just became the primary care taker and had to leave their position if they were working. Maybe your health care came from someone's employment, and ended when they couldn't return to work. You had life insurance but that also was from the company, so that is gone as well. How do you cover the expense of your new medical bills? Where is the next mortgage or rent payment coming from? Could you still keep the electric or heat on? What about food on the table for your family? Now some may be financially prepared for this disastrous chain of events, but for most of us it's not a pretty picture and we should thank God that must of us will never have to face that kind of reality. Yet some of us will. I say it's time the government in the form of “We the People” reinvest in “We the People”

It's time to give people in poverty a chance to fight their way out. Unfortunately there will always be a need for programs like the one Trinity and Keven Franklin sponsor, but wouldn't we all be better off, if instead of serving 75 breakfasts a day, they only had to serve 10 or 15? Doesn't that make us all just a little better?