Thursday, July 10, 2008

Arise to welfare: we are NOT an agency

I usually spend my lunch break right in the office, either working or reading, but yesterday, I took a bunch of flyers down to the State St. welfare office-- Department of Transitional Assistance, that is. Arise is having a workshop on cash assistance programs on Friday, July 18, and as a member of Arise's Economic Justice Committee, I wanted to do my share in getting the word out.

I handed a few flyers to people leaving the DTA office, then decided to go inside and ask for permission to pass the flyers out in the waiting room. I approached the security guard to ask, and he said he'd have to check with the director-- could I hold on for a few minutes? A couple of minutes later, DTA Director Sandy Gosselin opened the door to the waiting room, extremely friendly, and asked me to come into the back offices with her, so I did.

She'd looked at the flyer and found some of the language objectionable and confrontational.

"I'd like to think our agencies have matured," she said, and it took me a minute to realize she was talking about DTA and Arise. "This event is still a while away; if you'd like to change the language and then come back with new flyers, that would be fine," she said.

The language she found objectionable? Two phrases:
'Tired of getting the runaround?" and "Let's tell them what we think!"

I thanked her very much, left and went back to the waiting room, where I said to the folks waiting, "I was just told I could not pass out these flyers inside, so if anyone wants one, just step outside the door--" which I did, and several people followed me.

Actually, there were two events listed on the flyer: Friday, July 18's workshop, taking place from 1 pm - 3 pm at our office, 467 State St., and a DTA "Listening session" taking place Wednesday the 16th, to which the community has been invited-- although I saw no announcement about it in the DTA office!

Here's that flyer: .

Hey, Recipient!

Have you been invited to this? Below the dotted line is an invitation from the state Department of Transitional Assistance.

DTA wants to “listen to the community.” Does that include the community of poor people receiving public assistance?


We are a poor people’s rights organization


The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance wants to hear from you!

DTA is conducting a Community Listening Sessions Tour across the state.

You are invited to share with us:

Feedback on how we’re doing in your community

Your ideas for the future of our Department

News, facts, and impressions about poverty, homelessness and hunger in your area.

We will visit Springfield Wednesday, July 16th

Join us at FutureWorks Career Center, 1 Federal Street, Building 103, Federal Room, Cafeteria Entrance, Springfield, MA, 1:30 p.m.—3:30 p.m.

To RSVP, please contact Nancy King at 617-348-8526

or email

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