Bread Counts on Bakers' Dozen Members
A voluntary social justice tax
“For us, giving was a part of being Christian, part of loving our neighbors as ourselves,” says Gary Olsen-Hasek of his childhood. He describes his background as blue-collar: “We didn’t have much money, and really struggled when my dad was between jobs.” But his mother, especially, was nonetheless welcoming to people in need.
He met his wife, Sonya Olsen-Hasek, in the financial aid office of Garrett Theological Seminary, where both were students. Then, they were seeking support. Now, the couple provides support as members of Bread for the World’s monthly giving program, Baker’s Dozen.
Mr. Olsen-Hasek explains how he became interested in social justice even before college: when he was housebound with a severe case of mononucleosis, his local library in Cleveland, OH, would deliver books every two weeks. He took the opportunity to learn about issues such as the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement. Later, at Hope College in Michigan, Mr. Olsen-Hasek was active in social justice work and met several inspiring professors who introduced him to Bread.
Sonya Olsen-Hasek began learning about social justice when her older sister exposed her to the new ideas she was encountering in college. A Minnesota native raised in a Christian family involved in conservative politics, Ms. Olsen-Hasek realized that part of being a Christian was speaking up to those in power on behalf of those with little power. She learned about Bread a little later while planning a conference on hunger. The organization’s mission appealed to her immediately. “Charity is not enough,” she says. “It’s essential to see that things are distributed in a just way, and that people have a voice.”
Today, the two make their home in Salem, OR, where they attend Salem Mennonite Church. Plans are underway to have a Bread organizer give a presentation at the church on Offering of Letters 2011.
The couple’s participation in the Baker’s Dozen program came naturally. "After being occasional givers for years, we decided to join Baker’s Dozen,” Ms. Olsen-Hasek says. “That way, we could provide a steady stream of support for Bread for the World's work, rather than Bread benefiting only when we thought to make a gift."
Her husband agrees that Baker’s Dozen is a good fit for the couple. "Our tax dollars go to support many programs,” he says. “Some we approve of, some we don't. So we pledge a monthly gift to Bread for the World and other great groups. I think of it as a voluntary social justice tax!"
Bread for the World members can participate in the Baker’s Dozen giving program with a gift of as little as $10 a month. Gifts may be made either by electronic funds transfer or credit card. The money saved in processing equals the value of a 13th gift – a baker’s dozen. To join, visit www.bread.org/go/bakersdozen or call 1-800-822-7323, ext. 1140.