As a Sister of the Divine Savior, I walk many paths and interact WITH and WITH IN many communities. I have touched and been touched by many people of different ages and cultures.
When I arrived in Phoenix, AZ, I was offered a position as principal in Scottsdale, South Phoenix and an inner city Catholic School at St. Matthew’s Parish. I accepted the inner city school where 95% of the parents had recently arrived from Mexico. The area had been a middle class/upper class neighborhood. Just as in many other larger cities, it had become a poor, crime ridden part of the city of Phoenix, literally on the other side of the rail tracks.
It was at that time that VIP, Valley Interfaith Project, took on a leadership role in the Phoenix area. The organization is made up of religious groups, educators, labor unions, medical doctors and nurses as well as people who live in the neighborhoods. Any group who is interested in bringing about systemic change is welcome. The guiding rule of VIP is “Don’t do for others what they can do for themselves!”
I became a member of VIP. As members we have house meetings, neighborhood walks, meet with legislators, and visit the State Capitol when important issues come up for a vote. VIP conducts training days for people in their own neighborhoods who are working in their own school or church, etc. We realize that systemic change takes place when people get informed and involved.
I have always been interested in research, so I decided to do an informal research project to discover the views of the inner city adult and junior high students. Twenty students in each group were asked to list three positive things and three things they thought could use improvement within their family, city and neighborhood. Here were the findings of this informal research study:
FAMILY had the highest positive responses and the least number of needs improvement responses.
SOCIAL JUSTICE had the same number of responses for both groups with no improvement needed.
EDUCATION had the largest number of improvement needed in both groups.
COMMUNICATION had a slight number of responses stating needs improvement.
The follow up of this research was to get the students to become more involved in some way in the future.
Since we are all social beings, Social Justice Work is a MUST for all of us no matter our age or who we are.
If you or someone you know would like more information on VIP or some of the information gathered from this informal research on social justice, you can get in touch with me via my email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Sr. Georgene Faust, SDS