Mother's Day in America has been celebrated since the early 20th century. It is the one day of the year which should bring joy to every mom. But when I see a young mother on the street with her children in tow, I wonder how she gets through the day. My mind is curious with questions: do they have enough food, can she pay the rent, have her utilities been shut off? You see, I am older now, much closer to retirement than most. Life was not easy for me, even as a mother of just one. I still struggle with not having enough money, but don't we all? I continually search for answers as to how America, often portrayed as the land of milk and honey, still allows any mom to be homeless or without adequate health coverage. I've been there; all moms deserve the best.
As a grandmother now, I want all mothers to prosper, to heal, laugh, love and live life to the fullest. But if you look around, all is not well. I live in Los Angeles where, on any given night, over 82,000 people are homeless, and approximately 20 percent to 40 percent are families, headed by single mothers. It is easier for one to turn your back and not think on these things. Maybe that's the problem. This basic human right of having food and shelter has somehow escaped the most vulnerable in our society.
As politicians now in Washington debate which programs to cut, I bet not one of them in that decision making process has stopped to talk to anyone living in this kind of poverty. In March of this year, the U.S. government announced an $85 billion budget cut to help curb government spending. This affects every state which will in turn cut off thousands from obtaining housing subsidies, healthcare services, educational financial support, and of course resources allotted to various community programs for social services.
This is the reality that cuts through my heart. Yes, I do realize that many Americans are just as concerned as I am, but what are you doing individually? The time to get involved is now. Pick up the phone and call your legislators who are grappling with these decisions. Better yet, make a surprise appearance in their respective offices. Even if you consider yourself on easy street, all voices matter. We all have an obligation to do something. Think what it would be like to suddenly lose everything because of an illness, a car accident, or because you were injured on the job. These budget cuts, this sequester, all of it hurts programs that help those who need it the most.
When my family wishes me a happy Mother's Day, I know they mean it. But it is hard for me to be so happy knowing that what I see every day on these mean streets could soon be a friend or family member. Have our lawmakers ever tried to live paycheck to paycheck like millions of hard working people? Are they someone like you or me? We all give when we can, especially helping to stock our local food banks or clothing drives, but today, I am asking each of you to take that extra step this Mother's Day by lending a helping hand to a mom in your neighborhood or to an elderly mom who has lost their child. It is our problem, but one we can solve by standing up to lawmakers and lending each other an extra voice of support. Straight from my heart to your ears, happy Mother's Day to all who fight and for all who struggle, but also to those who can make a lasting impact.