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August 8, 2022

Commentary

Don’t let the point of economic recovery pop the compassion
bubble.
The economic downturn has made a strong impression on all of us.
Each of us has been touched by the crisis, whether it is a family
member who has lost a job, a friend whose business is struggling to
stay afloat, or a neighbor who has been forced to leave the
area.
As the president of the board of directors for the Redwood
Empire Food Bank, I’ve experienced first hand how the downturn has
impacted the people with whom we share our homes, our lives, and
our community. I’ve seen where people turn when they need help.
I’ve seen what happens when someone is hanging onto their home,
their dream, and doing whatever they can to prevent homelessness.
I’ve seen people line up in the darkest days of winter, in the
pouring rain, waiting for a much needed package of food. I’ve seen
it here in my lifelong home in Sonoma County, California.
For many people, the Redwood Empire Food Bank is the difference
between despair and hope, misfortune and opportunity, humiliation
and dignity. As the economic crisis unfolded, there were protracted
debates in Washington on how to respond. In Sacramento, deep cuts
are currently being made to balance the budget – much of which will
affect the people most vulnerable to economic setback.
In comparison, the Redwood Empire Food Bank was already prepared
to help people in need. In fact, for the past 21 years, the REFB
has been busy fortifying support for a growing number of people who
are threatened by hunger, people who are living on Social Security
or are disabled and even people who have jobs.
On a personal note, there are many organizations in our
community that do good work. I have elected to be part of the
Redwood Empire Food Bank because of our ability to touch so many
lives, as well as organizations that help people in need, whether
it is a soup kitchen, family shelter, after school enrichment
program, or low-income senior center.
Our organization does this without bureaucracy or waste. It is
the most efficient way for people to receive help and for people
like me to improve the lives of many people for whom we owe our
assistance.
In the lines of people waiting for food assistance you will see
the people who care for our children, tend to our homes, work our
land, serve us meals. They are seniors living on fixed incomes and
newly displaced professionals who never thought they would find
themselves seeking food assistance. And then there are the
children, who find themselves in a food line for no other reason
than their parents are struggling to make ends meet.
Our shared experience during these challenging times has offered
each of us a gift of sorts. It has provided us with the combination
to open the door to compassion and generosity. As we look down the
path toward economic recovery, let’s be sure that we leave that
doorway clear and open for people in our midst who, even in the
best of times, are touched by crisis.
Jim Keegan is the president of the board of directors for the
Redwood Empire Food Bank.

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