By Allyson Ferrari, Volunteer Manager
Every ten years, the United States asks its residents to complete a Census so that we know who populates our country. The impact of the census is huge; it impacts funding for schools, healthcare, housing, food income security and more. An accurate Census allows agencies to monitor discrimination and protect civil rights including voting rights and equal employment opportunity. Finally, the census allows us to know how many of the 435 representatives in the House of Representatives our community will have, giving us a greater voice in Congress.
LightHouse had planned several in-person events, including having LightHouse volunteers meet with our students, to ensure everyone could complete the 2020 Census. With the March shelter in place order, these efforts had to pivot to serving our students remotely.
Because the 2020 Census allows U.S. residents to fill out the Census online, we didn’t want lack of access to the internet or accessible technology to be a barrier in completing it. LightHouse volunteer, Sierra B., spent many hours calling over 280 LightHouse students to ensure that they knew about the Census and had support in filling it out (confidentially of course) if needed. Sierra commented on her experience and how it became an opportunity to connect with LightHouse students.
“The Census interview itself was typically completed in under 10 minutes, but leaving it off there just did not feel adequate. I took the opportunity to do a check in with our students to make sure that everything was going as smoothly as possible given the circumstances… It was lovely learning about how people were passing the time during the shelter in place and learning about people’s pets and lives. There may be a physical distance but there doesn’t have to be a social distance.”
If you have not yet filled out the Census, there is still time! Census workers will start visiting residences who have not responded in mid-July, so fill it out as soon as possible. If you would like support in completing it, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 415-694-7320.