BSM and our guests help us to “see” the world, really

By Sarah Sharp

All of the services that Broad Street Ministry (BSM) offers to hundreds of guests, whether it's a to-go meal, mail pickup, or clothing, shows us how we can work together to help each other here in Philadelphia.  We know that.  Yet, actually, BSM also offers us a mirror to reflect people who live on the margins all over our nation and globally.  In fact, BSM helps us to imagine global care that makes us guests of each other.  

According to Pew’s Philadelphia 2020, our city’s population was almost 1.6 million people in 2019.  Approximately 380,000 people, representing 24.5 percent of households, lived below the federal poverty line.  Just for comparison, those numbers made Philadelphia lead in the nation’s poor in the ten largest cities.  Those numbers have probably shifted due to COVID-19 realities.  Clearly, there is more that we could do to assist each other, pandemic or not. Food insecurity expected to worsen as coronavirus pandemic drags on.

Let’s go back a bit.  Starting in the early 1700s, the city of Philadelphia and religious organizations created programs and facilities that provided limited support for some.  Almshouses, houses of employment, hospitals, war refugee operations, epidemic facilities, settlement houses, among others, all served our city’s neediest populations.  As Philadelphia's manufacturing base expanded in the 1800s and 1900s, industrial employment opportunities drew immigrants here to the workshop of the world by the thousands and from across the globe. Building facades are still evident all around the city in case we need reminders of these sites. Employment volatility often resulted in people losing their jobs, homes, and income. So, Philadelphia’s history of having families who edged out a life on the margins is not new.

What do BSM’s actions lead us to think about locally, nationally, and globally?  Numerous other local organizations also help to feed our fellow Philadelphians in need, including Philabundance, Muslims Serve, Mighty Writers, among others. 

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call for action by all countries – poor, rich, and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. Seventeen fundamental goals have been identified. Collectively, they address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. 

Global Philadelphia Association’s Sustainable Development Goals Campaign is designed to bring awareness to the importance of the goals and encourage a broad commitment to their effectuation, both locally and in the wider world.