Weekly Radio Address: Senator Mazurek says, "We don’t know the stories of the people standing in line at the soup kitchen or homeless shelter. We should provide help—and do so without judgment and suspicion."
The holiday season is upon us. It’s a time when the gift of giving warms the heart.
It’s a time when we pause and give thanks for our friends and family. It’s a time to spend with our loved ones who are still with us, and remember those who we have lost. And, it’s a time when our heart is a little fuller and we offer a little more kindness and generosity to those who don’t have quite as much as we do.
Good morning, this is State Senator Ed Mazurek of District 22 in Knox County.
In many ways, this holiday season is like many others that I’ve seen in my life: My wife MaryEllen and I shop for gifts for our eight grandchildren and five children. Each year, my daughters and I pick out our family Christmas tree, and, look forward to having the entire family over for Christmas dinner. And, as the snow piles up and the temperatures drop, I think of the thousands of Mainers who work extraordinarily hard to make ends meet, to put food on the table, and gas in their cars.
It can be harder this time of year. Choices like which toy to buy or what to eat for the big family dinner are not options—because many are using their last dollar to heat their homes.
Many parents are going hungry so that their children can have a full belly at least once during the day. And many others slog through the wintry mess with clothes not fit for a Maine winter because they can’t afford snow boots or a winter parka.
To some, this may seem like hype. Or it may seem like something that happens some other place, to some other people.
But it’s not.
It happens right here in Maine, in each of our communities.
There are people struggling in Portland, where an average of 230 people seek shelterevery night, and often, dozens get turned away because there are not enough beds for all the people who need them.
There are people struggling here in Augusta, where the local warming center has just opened for the season; some days there are more than 50 people coming in to escape the bitter cold-even if it’s just for a few short hours.
Perhaps it’s easier to look away from suffering. To tell ourselves that it wouldn’t happen to us, and that these people must have done something, or failed to do something they should have, that their misfortune is their fault.
But I think if we looked closely, we see that the people standing in line at the soup kitchen, visiting the warming center, and hoping for an open bed at the homeless shelter are just like you and I—except they’ve had some bad luck.
Maybe they don’t have any family to give them a helping hand or a bed to sleep in.
Maybe they’ve used up all their savings to pay a health care bill, and lost their home.
Or maybe they’ve worked one, two, or even three jobs to put food on the table for their children, but still can’t afford to eat themselves.
We don’t know their stories.
We don’t know how they found themselves relying on the soup kitchen for a hot meal, or why they need to go to the warming center for a few hours of shelter.
What we do know is that no one should be hungry, or cold, or alone, or living on the street.
We may not be able to fix all the problems in the world, but we can provide a good, hot meal to someone who is hungry and provide a warm place to stay to someone who is alone, lonely, and cold. And we can do this without judgment, scorn, or suspicion.
It’s good to remember the little things we can do to help, especially this time of year. It’s especially heartwarming to help and reach out to those less fortunate.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Ed Mazurek. Have a great weekend—and a happy holiday season.