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Blog: Reflections of a NETWORK Intern

Jul 09, 2012 | By Katelyn Eichorst, NETWORK Intern

Where I am

This summer I am interning with NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby. As a social work major, I wanted to look at the big picture and attempt to solve issues for people using policy. It has been an incredible experience and I have learned so much. Even after the first week, I had a deeper understanding of policy and how it affects the people with whom I have worked in the past. I become involved specifically with SNAP (food stamps) and the attempts to make major cuts to this program.

How I got here

Throughout my years in school, I have grown closer to the homeless population and am connected to many of the shelters in Dubuque, IA (where I attend Loras College). I worked most in a new shelter that was built for women. Seeing all of the women who transitioned in and out of the home (some successful in piecing their life together while others not) made me so thankful for my life and everything I have. A majority of the women were younger than me and hearing their stories showed me that I could have been in that situation and would have been the one who was homeless.

Not all of the women used SNAP to receive food, but hunger was definitely an issue at one point in their life. I cannot even imagine not knowing where your next meal might come from or not eating for a day (let alone missing one meal). When studying social work, I went to the individual level and attempted to help these people get out of poverty and back on their feet. After studying in one policy class I became interested in the idea of helping people on a bigger level.

If I see one person starving on the street, I feed them. If I see millions of American’s starving, I make my way to the source.

Here

I am not a policy expert. In no way am I qualified to run the country or even a district in my state. However, I care about the people who are affected, the people that the big dogs sometimes forget. In an attempt to “do the best for the country” some people chose to cut services to people such as SNAP. As I mentioned before, I am no expert, but it seems pretty obvious to me that not helping people who are in need of that support is probably not the best way to go. How do they believe that this is ok? How do they sleep after writing a bill that would cut $16.5 billion from SNAP while keeping in place tax cuts for the top 2%?

Isolation. I do not believe these are bad people and are laughing when they see people who are starving. They do not want these people to suffer. However, they see these statistics regarding people who use food stamps and the need for them and they think of them as what they are, statistics. These are not political issues; these are humans who need our help and support. I think some people need to be reminded of that and NETWORK is working to tug at the hearts of our country.

Policy is intimidating. However, I read in a book once that policy comes from the Greek word polis, which means city. Community is so important in policy, and that is really all it is.