ONE Congressional District Leader Samuel Barajas, from Kalamazoo, Mich., and I met with Mr. Derrick Mathis of the Grand Rapids office for Senator Carl Levin last Thursday. Samuel, the rockstar ONE volunteer that he is, drove about an hour from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids just for our meeting. After arriving in Sen. Levin’s office, we thanked Mr. Mathis for the continued hard work that Sen. Levin is doing in Washington, D.C.
While our main goal for this meeting was to build relationships with the staff in Sen. Levin’s office, a top priority on the agenda that day was to talk about the less than 1 percent of the US budget that is dedicated to foreign assistance. Mr. Mathis was well informed about the issues that are so dear to our hearts, so it was easy to have a conversation about the impact that our foreign assistance budget has had, and is still having, around the world. We explained the incredible positive impact that the less than 1 percent of the budget has on lifting people out of extreme poverty. Just as important, we also talked about the millions of people getting life-saving access to antiretroviral medication and malaria bed nets.
Near the end of the meeting we showed Mr. Mathis the Midwest version of ‘Man on the Street’, a series of videos that aim to raise awareness amongts everyday Americans about how little of the US budget goes towards humanitarian assistance. He was encouraged to learn that the people in our region were becoming more and more educated about the foreign assistance budget. Mr. Mathis was grateful for the information and happy to talk at length about the work that ONE does on behalf of those trapped in extreme poverty and suffering from preventable diseases. Samuel and I requested a follow up meeting with Mr. Mathis sometime next month to revisit these issues and continue to talk about the budget resolutions being made in Washington, D.C. We’re so excited to have met the staff at Senator Levin’s Grand Rapids office and are looking forward to meeting with them again soon!
About the Author: Rhiannon Wootres is a ONE Congressional District Leader from Grand Rapids, Michigan