By Hannah Green – Class of 2013We are living in a country where 46.2 million people are currently living in poverty. In the United States, 8.3% of the workforce is currently unemployed. For FY2012-2013, Illinois social services will receive $350 million in budget cuts; this will equal a loss of 400 jobs, $485.5 million from the Illinois economy, as well as limit the number of resources that are available to community members in need. —- These are the numbers that LIFT advocates must face daily in their fight against poverty in order to expand opportunity to all people in the United States. LIFT is a national movement that enables college students to work one-on-one with community members to help connect them to resources such as housing, employment opportunities and public benefits while building personal relationships. LIFT has offices in five cities, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Chicago. In the Chicago region, there are three offices; one is in Evanston, one is in Pilsen and one is in Uptown. Loyola students who volunteer with LIFT do so in the Uptown office, which allows us to become a part of the solution in the northside neighborhoods in which we live. Furthermore, LIFT combines direct client service with social justice and advocacy work by encouraging students to get involved in advocacy events throughout the Chicago community.
—- I have been working with LIFT for the past two years, and in this time I have expanded my knowledge and perspective of how millions of Americans live below or around the poverty line. By becoming personally involved with our clients’ path out of poverty, LIFT advocates experience the challenges of navigating social services, government bureaucracies, and the overly saturated job market.
—- My work with LIFT has by far been the most influential and inspiring aspect of my time in Loyola thus far. It has provided me the opportunity to embrace Loyola’s Jesuit values and promote social justice in my own community. I have had the opportunity to build relationships with clients, help homeless individuals secure stable housing, secure full-time employment, and more than anything, reaffirm the belief that all humans are valuable. LIFT’s mission statement, as well as my core belief, is that every person has strengths that they can offer to society, their communities, and other people. My work with LIFT through these past two years has only strengthened my conviction in the resilience of the human spirit; the clients that I have had the pleasure of working with are some of the most powerful, dedicated, and hard-working people that I have ever met, and I feel blessed to have been a part of their lives. —- The significance of LIFT truly extends beyond our time in the office or partaking in advocacy events. It helps shape young people and college students’ perspectives about poverty, access to opportunity, and social policy. LIFT helps to format and change its advocates’ lives; even after our term of service ends we continue to fight for equality of opportunity in all of our future endeavors and careers.