In “Capwiz, the Pope and Politicians Who Genuinely Care” Tom Dwyer, Northeast Region SVdP Voice of the Poor Coordinator, provides a crash course in why and how to speak out on behalf to those who are marginalized and we serve with our hands on services.
“I ask God to give us more politicians,” Pope Francis recently wrote (¶205) in his Apostolic Exhortation “Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Guadium), “capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not the simply the appearances – of the evils in our world.” A noble and inspiring goal, to be sure, and one that we Vincentians can actively and easily promote, believe it or not, simply by participating in “Capwiz,” the Society’s online Voice of the Poor megaphone to Congress and the President.
But Capwiz is being underutilized. Of an estimated 150,000 SVdP members in the United States, only about 5,000 are signed up for this free service.
Capwiz is an advocacy alert email system that sends to Vincentians messages about social justice issues that the Society, working through its National Voice of the Poor Committee and in consultation with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wishes to advocate for with Congress and the president. Accompanying each alert is information about the issue and a template letter that can be emailed automatically to your congressional representatives and the president with a few mouse clicks. The letter can also be modified to suit your particular taste.
Capwiz has additional, valuable features that Vincentians will find helpful in seeking justice for our friends: the poor, the needy, and the marginalized. Here are some of the useful tools at the Capwiz site:
- For congressional accountability, always a key concern, there are a number of ways to track your congressional representatives’ votes. You can even sign up to receive weekly emails of their votes.
- For easy reference and follow-up on key issues, recent SVdP Legislative Action Alerts are available. For instance, currently shown at the Capwiz site are Alerts on Immigration Reform, Criminal Restorative Justice, the Refugee Children Crisis at the Border, and Extending Federal Unemployment Benefits Legislation.
- To help the uninitiated, there is a “Capitol Hill Basics” section which covers everything from the legislative process to tips on writing to your legislators.
- To promote Voice of the Poor advocacy in the community at large, you can get a list of news media in your area with links to their websites.
- To make it easier for the poor to be their own “voice,” you can print out Voter Registration Forms and information from each state to give to your SVdP clients who are not already voters.
- There are multiple searchable databases – for specific legislation, for your elected officials, for voting records, for campaign contributions, etc.
- You can also find information about elections in your area – the candidates who are running, both at the federal and state level.
So one concrete way you can respond to the call of the Pope, who wants a Church “which is poor and for the poor” is to sign up for Capwiz. Here is the quickest way: http://www.capwiz.com/svdpusa/mlm/signup/. But if you forget that, just visit the SVdP national website: at the Home page, click on “Programs/Tools,” then proceed to “Programs” and then to “Voice of the Poor” and then to “How Can You Get Involved” where you will find the Capwiz link in the lower right hand corner. Here is the website shortcut: http://new.svdpusa.org/members/Programs-Tools/Programs/Voice-of-the-Poor/How-Can-You-Get-Involved
While on the Voice of the Poor Page, check out the twelve (12) position papers of the Society on social justice issues – ranging from Affordable Housing to Just Wages. Capwiz is a service operated by CQ (Congressional Quarterly) Roll Call, a well-respected organization with a long history dating back to 1945. CQ Roll Call characterizes itself as an organization that provides non-partisan insights and tools for those who lead, shape or follow public policy.
More on the SVDP Voice of the Poor tools