I posted most of this on my We the Purple blog, but I deleted the political stuff and added some new information below. Honest.
Anyway, just seven letters—that's all it took for the office of one member of Congress to sit up and pay attention to an issue of concern among constituents. Seven people took the time to write a letter—not an email—and an aide to the Congressman remembered them.
That's truly amazing. Annie Gill-Bloyer, who is the faith outreach organizer for the ONE Campaign, met with the aide to discuss the goals of ONE and the non-profit she works for, Bread for the World. The aide recalled having received a "number" of letters about the ONE effort ("the campaign to make poverty history"). When Annie asked how many exactly, the aide replied, "Oh...seven," in a manner that suggested this was a significant amount. Annie was stunned; that's all it took to get noticed? Seven letters?
Annie's experience reflects the ever-shifting realities of our 21st century existence. I'll bet good money that one handwritten letter is remembered long after those useless Internet petitions have evaporated into cyberspace. (Is there anyone left who actually believes that an Internet petition does any good—or is even opened? They're not worth, um, the paper they're printed on.) Letters—especially those that are handwritten and not printed out or photocopied—have got to be such a rarity these days that it makes sense that they'd get noticed.
In her presentations, Annie shows a video about an anti-poverty program that I hadn't heard of before. WORTH is designed to empower poor women in developing nations to work their way out of poverty through "literacy training, group savings, micro-enterprise development, and entrepreneurship." The effort has proven to be remarkably successful in the parts of Asia and Africa where it's been introduced.
I love to hear about programs that genuinely change lives. Part of the program's genius, in my opinion, lies in the group effort; assemble a team of highly motivated women, and they'll be in it for the long haul.