I am a member of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and as a part of that organization, I have been blessed to be with Mary’s Pence for three fulfilling years. A short while ago, I attended a gathering of Mary’s Pence supporters. During introductions, I was asked why being part of Mary’s Pence was important to me. I rather flippantly responded, “It keeps me sane”.
Upon reflection, I realize that Mary’s Pence is indeed an antidote to news cycle-inspired anxiety. Each day we watch or read reports of human suffering that our government either ignores or exacerbates. Witnessing the suffering of the most vulnerable evokes many emotions: incredulity, anger, a sense of impotence and at times despair. The work of Mary’s Pence and its grantees is a countermeasure to anger and despair. Mary’s Pence, through its grants and ESPERA program, offers each of us an opportunity to support causes that heal and restore optimism.
Recently the termination of immigrant medical need deferments has been in the news. Ending this deferment will allow those with serious medical conditions and people with disabilities to be deported. As I read reports of disabled Central American’s imminent deportation, I immediately thought of ESPERA’s support of Asociación Coordinadora de Organizasciones de y para Personas con Discapacidad de Sololá (ACOPEDIS). This is a Guatemalan organization that advocates for the full inclusion of persons with disabilities. ACOPEDIS is rehabilitation oriented. The community attends to the health, nutritional, educational and social needs of its members. The ESPERA lending pool offers loans to individuals with disabilities as well as mothers of children with disabilities, allowing them to invest in income producing initiatives. The money they make through their individual efforts allows them to support and sustain their families.
While the scope of ACOPEDIS may be limited, its mission is a beacon of hope and a sign of the goodness of humanity as illustrated by this parable.
One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a girl who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one. Puzzled, the man looked at the girl and asked what she was doing. Without looking up from his task, the girl simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish”. The old man chuckled aloud, “There are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?” The girl picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”
Make a difference. Support Mary’s Pence.
This reflection was written by Kaye Cassidy, Ignatian Volunteer.
The Ignatian Volunteer Corps® (IVC) provides men and women, most age 50 or better, opportunities to serve others and to transform lives. IVC matches the talents of experienced Volunteers with the greatest social needs of our time.
IVC works in partnership with hundreds of community partner organizations. These nonprofit organizations provide Ignatian Volunteers with substantive work to serve individuals who have slipped through this country’s safety net. Hundreds of community organizations are on waiting lists to get an Ignatian Volunteer.