A Passion for Advocacy
Like many others, Cindy Levin’s path to Bread for the World led through her church, First United Methodist Church of Evanston, IL. In 2007, the Illinois native wanted to see her elected representatives take more action against hunger and poverty. As a busy mother of two toddlers, Levin felt slightly cut off from the world. She was eager to help but limited as to how much she could do.
“I decided to take the leap and participate in a Bread for the World Offering of Letters,” she says. A year later, when the person who ran the program at church wanted to pass the baton to another member, Levin took on the Offering of Letters leadership.
Her predecessor had urged Levin to attend Bread for the World’s 2007 Gathering. She decided that going would help her learn more about Bread and how she could help. She was unprepared for what a life-changing experience it would be. At the Gathering, she attended talks by journalists from the Washington Post and National Public Radio and by congressional staffers, hearing tips for reaching the public and elected officials. Levin saw Bread for the World as an open door to engage regular citizens in advocacy.
As soon as she got home, she wrote a letter of thanks to Bread, to say how energizing she’d found the Gathering and to ask how she could become more involved.
“They were happy to hear from me, which felt so great. Best of all, they showed me how I could make a difference during the time I had available,” Levin says.
Encouraged by Bread staff member Shawnda Hines, Levin wrote a letter to the editor of her local newspaper about the urgency of fighting poverty. To her surprise, the paper published her letter the next week. It would take 40 more attempts to see another one of her communications appear in print, but Levin was undeterred.
Then she received a telephone call from The New York Times, asking to print her letter urging the passage of the Global Poverty Act. Success!
Cindy Levin enjoys the spiritual fulfillment and personal empowerment her newfound role as advocate gives her. Wanting to share the feeling with other young mothers, she began a letter-writing club called “Social Justice for Social Moms,” giving her friends a primer on how to contact newspaper editors. She also started an anti-poverty blog (http://endpoverty-ccyl.blogspot.com) and joined “Let’s Talk Bread,” a monthly discussion group in nearby Oak Park. She has also met face to face with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
“Bread emphasizes that, even though I’m doing this independently, I am part of a movement. The support for learning activism is right there for anyone who wants to get involved,” she said.