These are difficult economic times in America. Tough choices will be made as part of the ongoing budget discussions which President Obama and the members of the United States Congress are now having. Each of these tough choices will be met, from certain segments of the population, with frustration, disappointment and anger. Social service initiatives will not be immune to these difficult decisions.
President Obama emphasized that the continued priority needs to be on investing in innovative, effective and efficient programs that address many of the country's greatest community challenges. However, as both the President and members of Congress look for savings within the budget, Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC), along with many other faiths, believe the impact of future reductions to the most vulnerable should be minimized.
Hindu American leaders are concerned. Shekar Narasimhan, Board Member of Hindu American Seva Charities observed, "While cognizant of the deficit and the difficult choices ahead of us, this is the wrong time to be slashing programs that serve the very needy, particularly those that leverage community-based and faith-based resources and volunteers like Americorps VISTA."
With great challenges comes the opportunity for reinvention. Like other faiths in service, such as Catholic Charities and members of Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs, HASC also believes that now is the time to work together to create a new national approach to service delivery models that is market-driven, result-oriented and locally controlled. This approach will enable the country to make a lasting difference to all those who are in need and have been trapped, for years, in the same safety net that was intended to help them originally.
I do believe now is also the time to for the New Americans and people of Dharmic (eastern tradition) to be more fully engaged in the re-invention. Collaboratively with established organizations such as Corporation of National and Community Service, as we develop our capacity to serve through sustainable infrastructures, we will have avenues to leverage our talent to strengthen America. HASC, in collaboration with other faiths, will continue to work with the policymakers to bring efficiencies to the service delivery system.
(This piece was originally posted on the Washington Post On Faith.)