Loving thy neighbor during hard times

Donations to non-profits are way down. No surprise.

On Friday, Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life and the Knights of Columbus are together hosting a “summit” on the role volunteers can play in helping their communities to recover from the financial crisis.

It will be at the Marriott East Side in NYC from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Among those groups sending representatives: Habitat for Humanity, the United Way, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, the National Fraternal Congress, the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, General Electric, the Foodbank of Greater New Jersey, Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Goldman Sachs and Volunteers of America.

Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, says: “A lack of concern for our neighbors within our financial system contributed greatly to the critical economic situation we face today. By sharing our ideas, experience, and creating a solid plan for the future of volunteerism, our nation’s volunteer-promoting organizations, from a variety of sectors – have the ability to be a wonderful force for good as they facilitate neighbors helping their neighbors to rebuild their lives and their communities.”

And Fairfield President Jeffrey P. von Arx, a Jesuit, says: “The global economy is facing one of its biggest challenges in a generation. While this economic crisis is still very much in its early phase, what seems indisputable is that we are about to enter an extended period of increased hardship within our communities, and increased poverty of resources in communities and nations around the world. It is certainly incumbent on our governments to respond to this crisis with alacrity, but we also know that governments can only do so much, and that we will have to look to our religious institutions, to our Universities, and to the non-profit and volunteer sectors in general to rise to the occasion and find creative solutions to the problems that we need to confront.”

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.