While we desperately need immediate relief, we must also seek long-term systemic change.
As faith leaders, we have a responsibility to cry out for the vulnerable and seek the common good, and this means the reform of a utility system that has served as a means for profit, putting profit before people.
Last week, The Network of Texas Industrial Areas Foundation Organizations with interfaith leaders from across the state held a press conference, urging the governor and legislature to take responsibility and put people before profits. It is time to direct recovery resources and restructure utility oversight to protect all, especially the poorer residents already on the edge because of the pandemic.
Due to the stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic, leaders from the West Texas Organizing Strategy (WTOS) decided to start a program to support mental health.
WTOS asked a variety of members within the Lubbock community how Covid-19 had impacted their family, and the most common answer was mental health. As a result, the grant came from the city’s Covid-19 relief funds.
Catholic Charities has collaborated with WTOS to help bring awareness to the program.
“Catholic Charities has actually been called in to administer the program. So, it’s just been really great to have that approved and ready to go,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Cynthia Quintanilla. “And we’re just excited about being able to provide the services.”
The program will kick-off Tuesday, September 15, and those interested in signing up for the session can get more information by visiting the Catholic Charities website.
Catholic Charities Receives Grant for New Mental Health Program, Everything Lubbock [pdf]
WTOS & Llano Estacado Alliance for Democracy (LEAD) clergy and leaders succeeded in getting City of Lubbock Utilities to halt robocalls to residents. The automated calls were causing "fear and anxiety that utilities would be shut off," even after the emergency declaration was put into place.
“As a pastoral leader in Lubbock I want to recognize the City of Lubbock Utilities for listening and assisting to reduce the fear and panic especially among some of our city’s most vulnerable people, a segment of our population very much in need of compassion in the current difficult circumstances,” said The Most Reverend Bishop Robert Coerver of the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock.
Rev. Becky Fox, Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church added, “We look forward to future opportunities to work together with City of Lubbock Utilities to continue to find ways to better serve our community.”
[Photo Credit: AP Graphics]
"I am concerned as a pastor with both the usurious nature of these loans, and the everyday experience of those we serve in our charitable ministries. All four of the Gospel writers included references to the anger Jesus had for the money changers in the temple. It is this same righteous anger that motivates my brother bishops and I to cry out for justice for those exploited by this industry."Read more
In an effort to save fellow parishioners, neighbors and friends from falling into "the debt trap," Catholic Bishop Placido Rodriguez and WTOS leaders called for payday lending to be regulated in Lubbock and across the nation. Argued the Bishop of the Catholic Lubbock Diocese, "this practice is so predatory and ...creates so much hardship for families."
Catholic Church Battling Predatory Lending, Lubbock Avalanche JournalRead more
West Texas Organizing Strategy stirred the pot in Lubbock by hosting a functional community dialogue about Lubbock Power & Light. Leaders invited the a representative from the utility, in addition to Lubbock City Councilman Hernandez and two candidates for Council District 3. Council candidates and the utility representative reported that they found the meeting a useful way to find out what is happening in the community. WTOS leader Edward George said that the meeting was a clear example of what the organization does, giving city residents a way to communicate directly and effectively with their elected representatives.