Building a Will to End Povery: Getting RESULTS

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Submitted by Phyllis Behlen, Greenwich, member of RESULTS, a group working against poverty.

In June five members of the Coastal CT chapter of RESULTS traveled to Washington D.C. to join more than 400 activists from around the country and world for the RESULTS International Conference, June 21-24, and then to lobby U.S. members of Congress to build the political will to end poverty.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 8.13.06 PMPhyllis Behlen (Greenwich), Sandra Eagle, Bill Baker, Lucinda Winslow (Stamford) and Nancy Gardiner (Trumbull) were joined in D.C. by Flannery Peterson of the National Diaper Bank Network (New Haven), UConn senior and Americorps volunteer Paige Bailey, Isabella Karanja, Chair of the National Council of Women in Kenya, and Aimee Hopkins and Wonu Olumoroti, RESULTS advocates from the UK.

All spent three days hearing from poverty experts including World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Children’s Defense Fund founder and anti-poverty activist Marian Wright Edelman, Administrator of USAID Dr. Raj Shah, and TV and radio talk show host Tavis Smiley, among others.

The group met all seven CT members of Congress to advocate for policies to reduce poverty both here and abroad. Says RESULTS volunteer Lucinda Winslow, “We in CT are represented by top-notch leaders who really understand the complex problems of poverty and how important it is for all of us to find solutions. It is inspiring and empowering to realize they work for us, and hear us!”

Sandra Eagle of Stamford expressed her passion for this work, “I started grassroots advocacy with RESULTS 4 years ago and was saying then that 22,000 children were dying every day of hunger and preventable illnesses. The good news is that we are making progress, but in 2014 18,000 children still die every day from starvation and preventable diseases, and those deaths come after agonizing suffering for the baby, and for the mother, father and siblings hearing his/her cries of pain. It is horrifying and heartbreaking. But there are solutions.  Getting to know the programs and players that make for that difference, and advocating support for them in accelerating the effort, is how we ordinary folk from CT played a role this past week in shaping the conversation and saving lives.”

The mission of RESULTS is to create the public and political will to end poverty by empowering individuals to exercise their personal and political power for change.  Top 2014 priorities include U.S. foreign aid support for programs to reduce childhood deaths (vaccines, nutritional supplements, distribution of bed nets, oral rehydration solutions), tax policies that create economic opportunity for millions of low-income American families (earned income tax credit, child tax credit), support for an increase in the minimum wage, protection of funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and extensions of unemployment insurance.

CT RESULTS members meet twice monthly, and welcome anyone wanting to learn about engaged citizenship and the issues around the work to end poverty. To learn more contact Phyllis Behlen: alphalfa2@aol.com .