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Local Heroes: Saving Starving Kids Around Globe

She used to volunteer at soup kitchens, but when she had a baby, Cindy Changyit Levin of Morton Grove found it was easier--and more effective--to lobby Congress on hunger issues. This is Part One: Mom Turned Activist.

 

 

Is it really possible to solve the world's huge problems, such as saving the lives of starving children around the globe? Some would say no.

But Cindy Changyit Levin of Morton Grove is chipping away at it.  As a volunteer with Bread for the World, a non-profit organization, she meets with members of Congress and U.S. Senators to urge them to vote for food aid.

Patch sat down with Cindy to find out what motivates her.

Q. How did you get involved with Bread for the World?

A. I got invited through my church, First United Methodist in Evanston. Every year they hold an "offering of letters." We have an opportunity to write letters to elected officials about the topic of hunger. 

I was lured in by the smell of fresh bread because they actually baked bread that morning, which was pretty brilliant.

Before, advocacy seemed intimidating to me. I guess I thought Congresspeople were going to call me back and debate me.

Earlier:

Now I realize it’s just sharing opinions with people you have elected.

This is something now that I feel obligated to do as an American and a Christian.

Q. So you wrote that first letter, and… 

Nobody called and yelled at me. I got a thank you letter. 

Q. And then what happened?

There was another turning point for me when I stopped working. I was an automotive engineer. When I had my first baby it was in the middle of winter. I couldn’t do a lot of the soup kitchen volunteer work I used to do. It’s just not advisable to be walking around in the middle of winter with a newborn.

 That’s when I remembered Bread for the World and realized I could write letters and make phone calls from my house.

I could do it in middle of the night when I was already up for a feeding or diaper change.

It was also a time of high emotional empathy for me. When you’re a mother, you feel more for families who are not able to provide the basic needs for their kids.

Q. Have you met families who can’t provide for their kids?

We’ve all met them. You may not know who they are. In the Ninth District, 11 percent of families are food insecure, and this district is considered one of the least hard hit by food insecurity. 

If your kids are attending a public school and you haven’t met these kids, that would be amazing.

Watch for Part Two: 'On A Global Scale,' running Friday. 

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