The video below shows the beginning of remarks made by Rick Guzman, who spoke at North Central College this February (2014) as part of the college’s year long theme of Global Human Rights, in particular the reduction of poverty. He also spoke about some incidents which led him to his present post—like being present when Nelson Mandela made a phone call.
Guzman is assistant chief of staff for Tom Weisner, the mayor of Aurora, IL, the state’s second largest city. He works on issues of community development, housing, and culture.
His talk centered on two important points: 1) Income inequality is growing in America, but 2) there are still tremendous assets that can be leveraged even in poor and under-resourced communities. He called this an asset-based approach to poverty reduction. Think, for example, of all the money people in poor communities poor into rent.
Guzman spoke specifically about the work of Emmanuel House, a non-profit he and his wife Desiree founded in 2002. It seeks to help break the cycle of working class poverty through home ownership. Just above the video icon below are links you can follow to find out more about income inequality and how Emmanuel House and other related initiatives work.
Guzman told a story about when he and few others were at lunch with Gov. George Ryan as Ryan was deciding whether to commute all death sentences in Illinois to life in prison sentences. A phone call came.
It was Nelson Mandela.
He urged Ryan to do the right and just thing. “It took me only a few seconds,” said Guzman, “to find something Mandela had to say about the importance of poverty reduction.” Mandela felt poverty reduction was a moral imperative.
For more, please follow these links:
♦ “Graphic Inequality,” on the incredible growth in U.S. income inequality.
♦ Emmanuel House, a page of resources on the workings and history of this unique organization.
♦ Chicago Family Directions, a tutoring and mentoring program.
♦ Hear Us, a national advocacy group for homeless children and youth.
♦ Read the article “Seeds of Change,” where Rick talks about how working in a homeless shelter gave him his first sense of housing problems in the U.S.
♦ ♦ Visit the Family Focus, Aurora, website. Gonzalo Arroyo, director of this program, also spoke along with Rick Guzman, and the two work closely together in Aurora.
♦ ♦ Visit the Emmanuel House website to find our more, donate, and get involved.