Providence– The sound of the Shofar echoed throughout the State House as well as the names of each and every legislator slated to begin work on Wednesday January 8, 2014. The Rhode Interfaith Coalition and its supporters turned out in strength, with hundreds in attendance, to issue a prayer for the legislators, a prayer that asked for the legislators to govern with wisdom and compassion and to remember those most vulnerable Rhode Islanders as they make decisions in the new year.
Maxine Richman, Board Member of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs and Co-chair of the Interfaith Coalition called on the state legislators to, “Create a budget and programs that assure that all Rhode Islanders are afforded pathways out of poverty and a road to economic security.”
Richman concluded, “Hope is the motto or our state. Let us together bring hope to those struggling Rhode Islanders.”
The goal of the vigil was a simple one, to ensure that Rhode Island legislators address issues of poverty as they govern. The Interfaith Coalition wants to make sure that every Rhode Islander is given the same basic rights regardless of their race, religion, or economic status. This annual vigil, held at the beginning of the legislative season, is meant to raise awareness among legislators that every Rhode Islander shall have:
- A decent, safe and affordable home
- Adequate food and nutrition
- Equal access to affordable and quality health care
- Equal and quality education for all children
- Decent work with adequate income
The Interfaith Coalition works in collaboration with other organizations and coalitions who share the same values, goals, and support, their efforts to impact public policy to achieve economic well security for all Rhode Islanders.
At the Vigil, the Interfaith Coalition released its Advocacy Platform for the coming legislative session, which includes working with their partners on the following principles and policy initiatives:
All Rhode Islanders deserve a warm place to live, food on the table and adequate health care:
- Expand affordable housing and prevent unnecessary foreclosures
- Increase funding to the Food Bank to ensure an adequate supply of nutritious food for low-income individuals and families.
- Help low-income seniors and people with disabilities pay for health insurance
If you work you should not be poor:
- Increase the minimum wage and the state Earned Income Tax Credit
- Reform Pay Day lending
- Allow working parents to keep their child care assistance as income rises
Education is the way out of poverty:
- Provide child care assistance for low-income parents who want to go to job training
- Lift the 6-month limit on the specialized work-readiness program for RI Works parents with limited literacy and/or English language skills so they can gain the skills they need to enter the workforce
- Restore Head Start seats to 2012 levels by increasing state funding for Head Start and continue the expansion of Pre-K and access to full-day kindergarten so all children can be successful learners