My vision for the future: A New York City that’s inter-connected. I see people having more understanding and empathy for the challenges and assets that different groups of people bring to the table. I would like every New Yorker to have the opportunity to live in a safe place, to be able to access healthy food, to get a good education, and to have a voice in our political system.
I was raised in the Jewish tradition and really caught onto the idea of justice as being something different than charity. Of course, people need to be served a meal tonight because they’re hungry. But it’s also crucial to support work that’s getting at the root cause of why so many people are hungry. It takes courage to take on a root cause because it requires us to evaluate the status quo and our roles—and comfort—in maintaining it.
This is a photograph that my cousin, Noah Hendler, made to help document the impact of war on children for the USAID war victims fund. Despite paralysis the child climbs three flights of stairs to reach his home. What the photo doesn’t tell you is that as a consequence of prolonged conflict in Cambodia, routine childhood vaccinations were disrupted and the child pictured here suffered from polio.
I know what is behind this picture because I have the full story. And too often, the full story is missing when there’s a salient political issue going on in New York. We need more than just the voices of privilege. We need the whole story, the one that only communities directly affected by injustice can provide. North Star Fund gives these communities the resources they need to claim their voice, to tell their story.
That’s a set of values that I know I share with the rest of the North Star Fund community, and why I am a part of it.
Excerpted from the 2011 North Star Fund Annual Report.