Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP’s Director of Domestic Programs, has been leading arts programming in south Florida for over 10 years. Raised in Homestead, Florida, Mauricio has a deeply personal connection to the communities that we serve there. We’d like to share a letter he wrote to the editors of The Miami Herald advocating for efforts that prioritize poverty reduction, an issue that we champion.
Oct 31, 2012
One Herald Plaza
Miami, Florida 33132-1693
Dear Miami Herald,
A month ago, several of my students witnessed a shooting at Benito Juarez Park during a birthday party. For a few of them, it was their first traumatic experience, but most live with circumstances where violence and trauma are prevalent.
The 2011 U.S. Census report declared that 46.2 million Americans are living at or below the poverty line right now. One in five children are living in poverty. The census also shows that the poverty level in the deep South Dade area has almost doubled in the past 6 years (from 13.8% to 28.4%).
Last summer, our partners in South Florida lost funding given the federal funding cuts to social services. Those cuts immediately affected our capacity to provide essential services in the development and protection of these young people. And unfortunately, neither our families or small businesses are in the position to pick up the slack.
The day after the shooting, I spent the afternoon in the hospital with one of the victims. She reflected that while participating in our summer program, she sees great hope in her generation. She experiences a unity that is uncommon given the diverse demographic. However, these acts of violence shake her confidence in her community. We need her to recover that hope.
I pray that our incoming officials reduce local and federal deficits without increasing poverty. Programs that protect low-income families keep millions of Americans from falling below the poverty line. We must protect these programs for the sake of our children.
15551 SW 144th Terrace
Miami, FL 33196