Inspired by others, retiree volunteers at Bread

Ronnie Fellerath-Lowell, right, collaborating with partners at Catholic Relief Services. Photo courtesy of Ronnie Fellerath-Lowell.

By Ronnie Fellerath-Lowell         

Do you think that people will go to Mars in the next 50 years? Perhaps you just saw “The Martian” or watched the “MARS” series on TV and it all seems possible.

How about ending hunger in 2030?  That’s only 13 years from now! Yet Bread for the World has embraced the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of ending hunger by 2030 because it is so important and POSSIBLE. Certainly not easy, but possible.

Last summer, at age 75, I joined the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC), which matches retirees who seek part-time volunteer work with organizations that that are helping people living in poverty. I like to work for big goals—to address the cause of a problem. That’s why I started my career as a teacher. I wanted to inspire the next generation. Later, when I was on staff in an inner-city Catholic parish in Brooklyn, I was inspired when the pastor shared Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters with parishioners, as a communal living-out of the gospel mandate to “feed the hungry.” The African-American and Latino parishioners, who often experienced hunger issues first-hand, recognized Bread for the World’s potential to address the causes. This experience introduced me to ending hunger through advocacy and legislative policy—making a larger impact than donating to the food pantry, although both are needed. Therefore, as soon as I heard that Bread for the World could use a volunteer, I knew that I was interested because they work for systemic change in a faith context.

It’s because other people inspired me that I am now volunteering at Bread for the World. Last November, I helped organize and staff the Bread for the World exhibit table at the Ignatian Family Teach-In. The 1,800 participants were mostly high school and college students so we had the opportunity to inspire the next generation of Bread for the World activists. We talked with these enthusiastic young people, provided information about Bread for the World, and successfully encouraged many of the students to write individual letters to their members of Congress. Those letters were delivered to Capitol Hill by Bread for the World staff.

Now, as 2017 begins, let’s continue to embrace with hope and strong advocacy the Sustainable Development Goals of Ending Hunger by 2030. Your phone calls, emails, hand-written letters, and in-person visits can help achieve this goal. And, your efforts will inspire others.

Ronnie Fellerath-Lowell is a volunteer in the church relations department at Bread for the World.

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