Thursday June 26, 2003
By Margie Bovee, Special Writer
The Saline Reporter
Kay Richmond of Saline believes she can make a difference in the world. This summer she will spend a week in Washington, D.C. proving it.
Kay is driving to Washington with friends from the Ann Arbor area. They are all members of RESULTS, (Responsibility for Ending Starvation Using Legislation, Trimtabbing, and Support). RESULTS describes itself as, "A nonprofit, grassroots citizensí lobby working to end hunger and the worst aspects of poverty at home and abroad." Members believe in empowering individuals to exercise their own personal and political power. For 20 years the grassroots organization has worked to increase the foreign assistance budget to protect programs dedicated to international childrenís health and infectious diseases. RESULTSí creed is that what is missing in ending hunger is not resources but political will.
When they reach Washington, Kay and her friends will join with an international representation of more than 300 other volunteers from Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Australia and Canada who will meet together to build new friendships, hear experienced speakers, and hone their advocacy skills. They will then proceed to meet with senators, representatives and officials at the World Bank to tell them why it is time to work together towards ending hunger and poverty.
This will be the 23rd summer that RESULTS volunteers have gathered in June for the International Conference and Lobbying Day in Washington. The group believes that this is the most important year to speak out for those who have no voice in government: the hungry and impoverished in the United States and around the world.
Kay, who retired in 1995 after 25 years of teaching kindergarten in the Wayne-Westland Community School District, speaks for the hungry children of the world. She says her heart aches for the 30,000 children around the world who die each day from diseases of poverty: TB, malaria, AIDS, measles, diarrhea and pneumonia as well as malnutrition. Kay adds incredulously, " One out of ever five children in the United States goes to bed hungry and more than one billion people in the world live on less than a dollar a day."
Sam Daley-Harris, a political activist, started the organization in California in 1978. It was then called the Hunger Project. Kay has been working with the group since 1980. RESULTS members speak for both global and domestic issues. The domestic groups target such governmental organizations as Headstart, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and Childcare Block Grants. Other RESULTS volunteers, such as Kay, work for global issues targeting foreign aid funding and appropriations.
Kay believes that the people in Congress do care, but need to be reminded of the issues that the volunteers bring before them. When the volunteers meet with various Michigan representative in Washington such as U.S. Representative Nick Smith, U.S. Senators Carl Levin, and Debbie Stabenow, their goal is to remind them of the dire need for foreign aid funding.
Kay says, "We are calling on Congress to be responsible. I think they really care."
She believes her group puts the governmental agents back in touch with the original reasons they ran for office. When her group visits each governmental office, certain members target specific subjects. Kay believes her presence makes a large impact.
"As the stories of destitution and disease are told, I cry," she says. "I always cry, and that gets a lot of attention from the Congressmen."
This year the RESULTS groups will be lobbying for the language to be used in the microcredit bill. RESULTS is looking for a statement that will state: "Fifty percent of the money USAID spends for microcredit will be used for loans smaller than $300 for the poorest of the poor in third world nations. Microcredit is the process of providing very poor people with access to credit. A tiny loan for starting or expanding self employment allows people to support themselves and begin to break the cycle of poverty."
When she is not volunteering for RESULTS, Kay is an active member of the Saline First Methodist Church where she is the Adult Ministries Coordinator. She is also an avid gardener and quilter. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1988, Kay is determined to keep active and keep making her annual trip to Washington for "the children." A collage of some of these children hangs from the wall of her office.
"This picture is my inspiration," says Kay. ĎWhen I get tired and think I donít have the energy to go to Washington this year, I look at those children and know Iíll be going for them."
She believes that they need her voice. She quotes the anthropologist Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed itís the only thing that ever has."
For more information about RESOLVE or if you are interested in volunteering,
call Kay at 944-6234.
Copyright © 2003 Heritage Newspapers