Insider’s Peek into the 115th Congress Swearing In
The Real Deal on Advocacy
Catholic Charities Govt. & Community Relations Director Luz Tavarez gives an insider’s peak into the 115th Congress swearing in & real deal on advocacy.
By Luz Tavarez
Director of Government & Community Relations, Catholic Charities New York
What a whirlwind three days I spent last week in Washington D.C. filled with the historical opening of the 115th Congress including congressional swearing-in ceremonies, meetings and advocacy on behalf of the 2.5 million New Yorkers Catholic Charities serves each year! As Catholic Charities director of government and community relations I had the opportunity to accompany our Executive Director Msgr. Sullivan, along with our Community Services Executive Director Beatriz Diaz Taveras and Associate Director for Hudson Valley Services Shannon Kelly during this key time in our nation’s history.
We were there – and Msgr. Sullivan gave the invocation – as Adriano Espaillat was sworn in to the U.S. Congress to represent those we serve in upper Manhattan and the western Bronx. We were also there as John Faso was sworn in to represent parts of the Hudson Valley we serve including Sullivan, Ulster Counties and parts of Dutchess County.
We were also privileged to meet with Congressman Dan Donovan along with staff of Congresswoman Kathleen Rice in the Longworth House Office Building; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s staff in the Russell Senate Office Building and social policy staff of Catholic Charities USA.
These advocacy trips are key to relationship building, key to what I do. Often we meet people in the cafeteria, in the lobbies, wherever we go. And often we find these ad hoc meetings more effective at addressing serious concerns than the organized ones we had scheduled.
In D.C. our advocacy centered on several crucial issues including:
- Concerns about block granting
- Protections for SNAP (Food Stamp program) and EFSP (Emergency Food and Shelter Program)
- The importance of case management services at emergency food programs to lift people out of poverty
- Caps on tax deductible contributions for non-profits
- Support for unaccompanied minors and DACA recipients
- Preparing for future disasters
- The need to address the opioid epidemic
Sometimes advocacy is fun. Sometimes it’s frustrating. But always our work to ensure the wellbeing, safety and security of our fellow New Yorkers is worthwhile.
I’m happy to share that our comments last week were well received. As we mark in 2017 our 100-year legacy of service we will continue to work with our Federal contacts to advocate on behalf of New York Human Service providers and those whom we serve. And we will continue to provide help and create hope for New Yorkers in need, non-Catholics and Catholics alike.