COULD GEORGIA FINALLY GET AN EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT?

Tax laws and modifications to the Georgia tax code are always major parts of the work of the Georgia Legislature when they convene for their annual session. Continue reading

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THEY ARE US

If you were to Google the phrase ‘refugee stories’ you would get over 10 million links to stories of all kinds.  Many, given recent history, would be about Syria.  Many would be about the current Executive Order issue.  Some you might consider ‘pro’ refugee and some ‘anti’ refugee.  But there would be a lot to read. Continue reading

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MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE IN A WORLD FULL OF CRAZY

John Berry, Chief Executive Officer, St. Vincent de Paul Georgia

John Berry, Chief Executive Officer, St. Vincent de Paul Georgia

By John Berry

I have always prided myself on the fact that I thrive on change. Early in my professional career I was weaned on the management philosophy of Jack Welch and the culture at GE.  Change was what and who we were.  It was a good thing and it made us a better company.  I have carried that learning throughout my career from the private sector to government service, and now to the nonprofit sector.  It has always served me well. Continue reading

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SILENCE IS NOT AN OPTION

John Berry, Chief Executive Officer, St. Vincent de Paul Georgia

John Berry

This week I am going to put aside my CEO of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia hat and write just as me, John Berry.  As the individual that I am; father, son, husband, grandfather, brother, believer in social justice and human rights, proud citizen of an amazing country, Christian, sinner, one who tries, one who fails, human being, a single human voice in a cacophony of voices.  I am going to write just as me because I cannot be silent.  Silence is not an option.

Over the last few months I have observed with a mixture of surprise, anger, bemusement, concern, curiosity, confusion, and even occasional agreement the actions and statements of the President-Elect and now President.  But, in general, I remained silent and felt that it was appropriate for me, as someone who did not support his election, to let him have his chance to make policy and appoint his advisors and Cabinet.  But that changed on Friday, January 27th for me.  Silence is not an option any longer.

Because by his actions on Friday, January 27, 2017 our President made America a worse place, a more hateful place, a more dangerous place, a less welcoming place, and a place that lost a part of its moral core; and that is not what Presidents are supposed to do.  And as an American I want to say that, at least for me, that is not the America that I know we are.  That is not what I, as 1/325,489,832th of the United States, am or believe.  So for me, silence is not an option.

As a Christian I try (and often fail) to live my life as taught by my personal Savior.  And one of the things that he taught me – in clear and uncertain terms – was that I had better treat people as I would be expected to be treated if I want him to treat me that way at the end.  He made it clear that ‘For what so ever you do to the least of these you do to me’.  And he specifically references that behavior to strangers, which I take to include immigrants and refugees.

But if I were not a Christian, but rather a Jew, I would likely also recall that the word ‘Immigrant’ appears in the Old Testament 92 times.  And that in the books of Deuteronomy and Exodus, for just two examples, the Jewish people are reminded that they were once refugees and immigrants and thus they have a special obligation to people in those circumstances.

And then I would know that silence is not an option.

But again, if I were neither a Christian or a Jew but rather a Muslim or a Buddhist I would know that the Quran teaches that honoring the stranger is a holy obligation and that the Buddha taught kindness in loving strangers.  And so, I would know that silence is not an option.

And even if I practiced no religion or followed no God I would remember what the Statue of Liberty proclaims to the world:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And then I would know – silence is not an option.

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Lack of Access to Quality Housing Deepens Inequality

By Melissa Winkler, Community Relations Manager, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia

Melissa Winkler Community Relations Manager Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia

Melissa Winkler
Community Relations Manager
Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia

Recent research from places like the Center for Housing Policy shows the deep correlation between quality affordable housing and short and long-term health and economic benefits. Affordable housing allows families and individuals to direct more money toward things like food, transportation, and savings. This redirection of scarce resources is particularly important for low-income individuals and families who already struggle to make ends meet. Additionally, quality housing lowers the occurrence of health problems related to exposure to lead paint, mold, and other hazards and reduces the effects of chronic illness- both physical and mental. Another positive effect of accessible housing is the creation of supportive community networks and neighborhoods. When residents feel more stable in their homes, they gain access to important community support and reduced psychological stress from living in safer neighborhoods. Continue reading

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Let Us Dream…Let Us Do

This week, as we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there are many things we recall about his words and his vision for a better world.  One of the most memorable of his speeches came during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Today many are still inspired and encouraged by the words spoken that day; words that helped to change the world.  Words that encouraged work that is not yet complete.  Words for the ages. Continue reading

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THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNCONTROLLABLE EVENTS

This past weekend we experienced the periodic challenge of winter weather coming to our southern city.  The predicted snowstorm got everyone’s attention mid-week and by Friday we were in a full blown panic about the impending impact of snow and ice.  Being one who spent 14 hours in their car trying to get from Buckhead to Marietta in 2014, I was very conscious and aware of every predication and made sure that our office closed early enough on Friday for everyone to get home safe and sound. Continue reading

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NEW YEAR – OLD CHALLENGES

Happy New Year to everyone.  I hope that you had a wonderful holiday and that 2017 is good to you and yours.

The new year is traditionally a time to reassess, make commitments to change, and declare a fresh start.  Our resolutions, even if they don’t make it past the first Atlanta ice storm, are an acknowledgement on our part that we can make positive changes in our lives, our relationships, or our thinking; with the ultimate goal of making ourselves better people and our world a better place.  New Year is a time for renewal. Continue reading

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SEASON’S GREETINGS

This holiday season, like every holiday season, at the St. Vincent de Paul Georgia main offices, we hosted and served a meal for people in need in the area.  Our guests were the people that we help everyday with emergency food bags or those who come in and use our computer lab to look for work or to just keep a connection to the rest of the world.  We had our staff, some members of the Board of Directors, and some of our regular volunteers working to set up, serve the food, and clean up. Continue reading

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TRANSPORTATION EQUITY

Last week I was in Washington, DC on business.  I was staying and working out in the Dulles Airport area and I had made an appointment to meet someone for dinner in the District in Chinatown at 6:30pm one night.  Usually my business in DC keeps me in the District area, and I usually never bother to rent a car because the Metro is so great up there; but I had for this trip.  So I was somewhat unfamiliar with commuting from/in the Dulles/Reston area.  So, my adventure began.   Continue reading

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