Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Community Services’

19th January
2009
written by JHiggins

Having recently run for office, I can assure you that it’s not a process to be taken lightly. There were 14 hour days for 6 months straight. The campaign process becomes your life. Your marriage, family, business and community activities are put on hold as you look for every opportunity to get your message out to the voters. My race was brief, less than a year, I can’t image a 2 year presidental campaign. Obama and I  both have two children, both are 10 and 7 years old. The experience undoubtedly changed both of our families forever.

Why did I run?  Because I believe in our community and have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams here. Lately, either because I’m more engaged or more aware, I’ve become more and more concerned about the decisions we are making as a community.  I often wonder if my children will not have the same opportunity here that I did. I’m see a lack of jobs for our graduating college students. I see a vanishing middle class and a community separated by the “retirees” and “struggling to survives.”

I serve on a number of non-profit boards and believe it is our responsibility to give back to the community any way possible. The one board that I’m most proud and involved in is Catholic Community Services. The agency has a $36m budget and 500+ employees. They do work for people from cradle to grave and cover all of southern Arizona. In the 5 years on the board I’ve watched the total people served  rise from 90k to over 120k per year.  We provide the safety net for thousands of kids, families and elderly, we are struggling to keep up on the demand for our services. Our health care clinic is over whelmed, our elderly services are at a breaking point. What I’ve seen first hand is that we can’t keep making the safety net bigger. At some point we must focus on the fundamentals of our community. We must focus on economic development, creating better paying jobs. We must bolster our middle class and provide hope for our children.

President Elect Obama published a letter to his children in this Sunday’s Parade and it struck a cord for me and my family. We read the letter to the kids as we tucked them in and we relived and reflected on the campaign process as a family.  Let us keep in mind that although we are quick to criticize our elected officials they are, for the most part, making a sacrifice to run and hold office.

Next Tuesday, Barack Obama will be sworn in as our 44th President. On this historic occasion, PARADE asked the President-elect, who is also a devoted family man, to get personal and tell us what he wants for his children. Here, he shares his letter to them.

Dear Malia and Sasha,

 

I know that you’ve both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn’t have let you have. But I also know that it hasn’t always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn’t make up for all the time we’ve been apart. I know how much I’ve missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I’d make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn’t seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn’t count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that’s why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college-even if their parents aren’t rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.

I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you’ll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.

Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.

 
 

That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.

She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It’s a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.

I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you’ve had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much-although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

These are the things I want for you-to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That’s why I’ve taken our family on this great adventure.

I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad  
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