2008 was coming to a close with a barrage of bad news and depressing year-end recaps. 2009 started out with even more bad news and lots of partisan debate about an 800 billion dollar stimulus package. Bewildering to say the least; most of us are wondering if any of this stuff will work. Then, out of the blue, a small, positive ray of light caught my attention.
I am a champion of, and believer in, the power and potential of the individual; I'm always on the lookout for the upside of situations, especially in tough times. The last place I expected to find uplifting inspiration was in the nitty-gritty of New York City's bureaucratic community outreach programs. Then I clicked on a video of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s press conference about a new Citywide initiative called Pass It On. There it was — a simple, great example of grassroots initiatives in action at the very epicenter of New York City's heart and soul — its neighborhoods.
The Pass It On press release describes it as a first of its kind in the nation program specifically designed to help Faith Leaders provide financial education and tools to their congregations; a simple, strong idea. Make it easy to educate and empower people to make the necessary personal changes to weather tough times.
Need a Financial Adviser? Go to Church!
A recent survey by the City found that faith leaders are one of the most trusted sources of information and advice for many things, even making financial decisions. The result of this recognition is an unlikely yet powerful alliance of faith leaders, the financial community and city agencies who came together to take action. Go figure! The press release notes:
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) will advise faith leaders about the many free and low-cost financial education resources available through the City’s Financial Education Network and encourage them to pass the information on to their congregants to help them strengthen their financial well-being during the current economic downturn.
The Power of Grassroots Engagement:
If there's anything our last Presidential election taught us, it's never to underestimate the power, promise and potential of local communities and individuals. New York City officials have tapped into this by recognizing the potential of the clergy to be a valuable asset in the education and motivation of their congregations to take positive actions and take control of their financial well-being.
The early indications from Pass it On are very encouraging. Let's hope Congress is listening and learning.
A big salute to Mayor Bloomberg and NYC!