New York City People's Life Fund

339 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10012

2009 Annual Report

On November 27, New York City People's Life Fund held its 2009 Annual Board Meeting at the A.J. Muste Institute. Following below is the text of our update to membership:

The Year in Review

It's almost a year since Barack Obama took office amid high hope and exuberance. Not only had the voters chosen a relative unknown but a young man of color in a watershed victory over a seasoned white politician. It certainly portended change, unprecedented change. The electorate was excited and enthusiastic.

However, much to the chagrin of the peace movement, Obama has shown little ability to enact the change that his rhetoric promised.

Guantanamo is still operational despite plans to close it; troop increases of a sizable nature are on the table for Afghanistan. And on the domestic front, the lack of a clear agenda and a mobilized Congress for a comprehensive healthcare bill wasted precious hours in endless debate and maneuvering.

While U.S. support for the war in Afghanistan had reached an all time low (as reported by USA Today) Obama justified continuing the war on terror because violent extremists are determined to continue killing as many Americans as they can. This seems a strange statement when the U.S. is bombing highly populated areas in their mission to kill the Taliban. And the question of hostilities with Iran remains an ominous threat.

In the meantime, on the domestic front headlines such as “Judge Rules that Hospital Can Close Dialysis Unit” (which means that many patients will suffer untold consequences), or a headline of “California Abuse Shelters Are Limiting Services or Closing” (which means that countless patients will no longer have a support system) give us a picture of a country that is failing to give its most vulnerable population the service and support it desperately needs.

These holes in the social fabric of American life will have consequences, possibly dire, in the future. It is an America of danger and insecurity that we are in the process of building, or should we say—at one time we thought of building in a positive way and now we are turning that concept around.

Unless there is major change, Americans are in for a rocky future. And this time (notably in contrast to the Thirties) we have ongoing war and occupation to contend with while the economy languishes.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is certain. We cannot be mired in the swamps of fear. As FDR famously asserted, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

A Call to Action

This past April 15, PLF made five grants totaling $5,000 to organizations had little chance of being funded from other sources, and that provide services vital to their communities—The New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), Da Urban Butterflies, 4th Street Food Coop, Theaters Against War (THAW) and Central American Legal Assistance. The ceremony in front of the IRS building was a bright light that stood out against the gloom that seems to pervade antiwar efforts.

At a time when people are hurting, fundraising is especially difficult. Our resources are still extremely limited, and we find ourselves again imposing a freeze on granting activities. Clearly, times are hard. But our failure to act now will assure that times continue to get harder. Your sustained support to the Fund, no matter how small, can make a real difference in the impact we can have in the New York City community.

We can act by supporting our own communities, and by way of example, providing a blueprint for what might be done on a larger scale. Your contributions are vital to all efforts the Fund makes.