By Irene DeMaris

2020 has been a lot. It’s been overwhelming and just when pandemic living was feeling normal a derecho devastates the majority of our state. I don’t know about you, but this was not the year I had hoped it would be. As people of faith and conscience, we have seen and heard stories of hope across Iowa, yet there is still much work to be done. Join us at Iowa IPL in participating in putting our prayers into an action or two over the next week. Civic engagement is a way to live our faith and values as we shape how we work together through all levels of government to shape a more hopeful and just future.

Derecho

Climate scientists have been predicting this kind of an event, even so most of us didn’t know what a derecho was until after it hit the majority of our state. Causing countless power outages, loss of cell service to call for help, houses destroyed by trees they loved, and hit 14 million acres of farmland.

Action: Mr. Rogers said that “When [he] was a boy and [he] would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to [him], ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Be a helper in whatever capacity you are able. Recovery is going to take a long time. The Gazette has a great list of places you can volunteer or donate to. The United Way of East Central Iowa also has ways to volunteer.

Census 2020

Iowa’s response rate is at 69.1% while the national average is only 63.8%. The data compiled by the Census determines where federal funding will go for the next 10 years. This impacts local schools, public libraries, rural communities, highway projects, and more. It was announced early this month that the Census Bureau will be completing its counting efforts a month earlier than planned. Organizations like the National Disability Rights Network are calling for an extension.

Action: Check in with your friends, family, and neighbors to make sure they have filled out their Census. To make it easy, offer access for them to fill it out online or let them use your phone to call 844-330-2020. Kids are often undercounted in the Census, so our friends at Common Good Iowa are asking people to talk to parents and caregivers about why every kid needs to count. Here’s their resource to aid in those conversations.

Absentee Ballots & Voting

It’s impossible to know what the next few months leading up to November 3rd will look like. We want to keep everyone healthy and safe and voting by mail is a way to do so. Love your neighbor by staying home on Election Day. If you do choose to vote in-person, please pack a mask to protect our poll workers.

Action: Have you filled out your absentee ballot request form yet? If you have sent yours in, have you double checked that it arrived? If you live in a county that isn’t sending forms and have a printer when those around you do not, print some extra to distribute. Little Libraries are perfect for this! Want to learn more about how to encourage our faith communities to vote for climate justice? Join National IPL for a webinar on August 20th at 1pm Central.

U.S. Postal Service

I have a good friend who loves to send out old postcards to give us a glimpse of her daily life. It’s always a surprise and delight when one comes in the mail. More important than postcards, people’s paychecks, social security checks, medicine, absentee ballots are delivered by our U.S. Postal Service rain or shine. Did you know that 40% of U.S.P.S. workers are People of Color (POC)? That people who do not have access to banks can go to the Post Office for money orders to pay their rent? We need to include this vital service in our next stimulus package.

Action: Order stamps, send packages, buy last minute birthday cards through the U.S.P.S. online store. You can pre-order the 19th Amendment: Women Vote stamps! Call your Senators and let them know you support $25 billion of stimulus funding for the Postal Service. Write a thank you note to put on your mailbox for your postal worker to brighten their day.