SOURCE: Step Up California

Step Up California

February 01, 2011 17:42 ET

Step Up California Month February, 2011

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwire - February 1, 2011) - Step Up California Day ( -- a day established by the legislature in 2010 calling on all Californians to step up and do what they can to help fellow Californian in need -- will be commemorated on February 3, 2011 to kick off a month of poverty-awareness and education activities challenging all Californians to help those in need through volunteerism and charitable giving to service organizations such as food banks, homeless shelters and job development organizations, and to support anti-poverty policies and programs. A bipartisan group of Legislators, led by Assembly members Connie Conway and Jim Beall, joined together to pass ACR 110, a resolution which established Step Up Day and Month.

California has been a promised land for those seeking gold, good jobs, a better life for their children, and freedom from oppression in other parts of the world. Despite having the 8th largest economy in the world and being a leader in technology and innovation, one in four homeless Americans is from California. The state's unemployment rate stands at 13% -- well above the national average of 9.7%, and eight of the state's counties have rates soaring above 20%.

Agencies providing services to those in poverty have been overwhelmed with an increase in demand for basic services such as food, shelter and help in finding jobs. Not since the Great Depression have we witnessed so many Californians suffering, struggling and desperate.

In San Bernardino, Catholic Charities -- a founder of Step Up California -- will stage a Community Poverty Simulation to educate participants about the day-to-day realities of life with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress. During the simulation, participants will role-play the lives of low-income families and try to provide basic necessities while encountering life challenges and barriers to resources. Although the activity uses "play" money, learning what it's like to be a single mother who just lost her job and is facing eviction is no joke.

Other Step Up California activities will include a Forum on Earned Income Tax Credit being held at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento and legislative tours of nonprofit direct service agencies that will provide lawmakers with a view of the economic crisis and proposed budget cuts as experienced by the people who are directly and disproportionately impacted.

All Californians can take steps on behalf of working poor families, the unemployed, and those affected by hunger, homelessness, poor education, low wages, and lack of access to healthcare. Talk to your family and friends, think of how you would like to make a difference, and Step Up to the challenge of addressing poverty in your community and your state.

Working together, we can reduce poverty, advocate for justice and bring promise back to our California promised land.

Step Up California is a bi-partisan coalition of legislators and organizations committed to reducing poverty in California. Partners include:

  • Catholic Charities of California United
  • Jericho
  • California AARP
  • California Council of Churches
  • Lutheran Office of Public Policy-California
  • INSIGHT Center for Community Economic Development
  • Loaves and Fishes
  • New America Foundation
  • Step Up Silicon Valley

Contact Information

    Shannon Lahey
    Executive Director
    Catholic Charities of California United
    916 313-4020
    916 769-5009 - cell
    Email Contact

    Judith Larson
    Executive Director
    916 955-2730
    Email Contact