MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ethel Johnson has been delivering Meals on Wheels for MIFA in Memphis for more than 30 years. She said her volunteer work is a calling that reaches far beyond a person’s nutritional needs.
“And it just gives them joy, because they are there by themselves and when they see you they just light up. Because there’s human touch. You’re touching somebody.”
Johnson has been troubled by reports that organizations like Meals on Wheels will lose federal funds under President Donald Trump’s budget.
“If they take that away from them, who’s going to take care of them? And for the grace of God there go you and me.”
MIFA’s Meals on Wheels program may have dodged the budget axe for now. It’s funded through the Older American’s Act, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living.
The future is a little more cloudy for after school programs like the ones conducted by the Memphis Black Arts Alliance.
“The Federal Government has been a supporter of this organization for 35 years and to have that taken away, at this particular point, is detrimental.”
Lar’Jauanette Williams said federal funding plays a big part in allowing a program called Arts Reach to even get off the ground. The program is situated in one of Memphis’ most economically depressed neighborhoods and teaches the arts as a way for youth to overcome poverty and crime.
“We cannot displace the arts component in their lives. That is the one thing that helps them to be able to visualize, to be able to see past their current circumstances.”