Today is officially Read to Feed the Mind day in the city of Buffalo, MN. This declaration was made official at the Feb 21, 2012 City Council meeting (click to view the video, then click the third "dot" from the left). More supporters than I expected showed up for this event and sat in the peanut gallery. The mayor spoke. Dana Lappin, who suggested the proclamation, spoke. I was asked to speak. I described the program, and Dana discussed what motivated her to make this request.
The question that has been nagging at me has been "WHY?" "Why do we need a proclamation? Why is this important? My Minnesota roots have caused downright anguish over this, because we, Minnesotan's, are not so comfortable in the spotlight. Keep your head down and work hard is what we value. So I've had to reconcile why a proclamation is a good thing for Buffalo and for Read to Feed the Mind.
The conclusion I came to is that, in the end, this proclamation is not about the organization, although our organization is important because of the need it is filling in our communities. In fact, I am downright proud of the work we, as an organization, are accomplishing. Certainly the proclamation recognizes both the effort and the need, but it sends an even bigger message to and about this community of Buffalo, MN. This is a message that I can really get behind, too!
When the mayor and city council took the time to sign this proclamation they were declaring to the citizens of their community that literacy matters. Their action is a declaration that we, as a community, must do whatever we are able to ensure that ours is a literate citizenry. Their action recognizes that literacy and poverty are inextricably linked, and the solving of one will affect the other.
Read to Feed the Mind gives books away. This is important, but it is only one piece of a much bigger puzzle that many are working at solving on our society's behalf. Our schools work harder than most would believe (based on the headlines) to ensure that every child achieves high levels of literacy and academic success. Volunteers for food shelves and social programs donate selflessly of themselves to ensure that basic needs are met for adults and children. Politicians (some) weigh the cost of deprivation and poverty, and look for ways to allocate resources to help mitigate the havoc that poverty plays on our society's economic well-being. Our health care system cares about literacy & poverty and the ways that it costs our citizens in health and healthcare dollars.
Indeed, many of us are looking for ways to contribute to solving the problem of poverty. It takes all of us...and more.
Support those who are working at solving this problem. Join the mayor of Buffalo, and the city council and proclaim that literacy and food, education and social supports are important. Proclaim that solving problems is what Americans do well. Proclaim that celebrating progress, even when it is small, is more important than casting judgment. Contribute your piece because, truly, TOGETHER WE ARE BETTER! If you have time, offer it. If you have money, donate it. Programs cannot exist without these.
Those who work for the greater good are often invisible, but their work is making society a better place for everyone. THAT's a proclamation message worth repeating all across America.