Upon learning that homecare services budgets were about to be slashed and a program called housekeeping services was going to be completely eliminated, we asked the executive director of Selfhelp Community Services to convene an emergency brainstorming meeting to review the crisis of losing 13 million in funding. While the housekeeping services program was a small one, it quickly became the fulcrum to our campaign.
We created a hand-tied hemp knot scrapbook of images and visceral soundbites with the title: Housekeeping Service Is Not Maid Service stamped across the cover. Each page told a story: Only 12 hours of Housekeeping Service Each Week Allows Her to Live At Home: Sadie Irving, Age 70 (photo) "I was born blind, I'm easy pickins. I've been robbed five times. Since having a housekeeper, I haven't been robbed. Without her…sure, I could live here. But, I have no family who could come in to help me. How do I get my food? How do I get to the doctor's and do the laundry? The stove is dangerous the fire could easily leap onto the pan and onto me without my knowing it." Helen Melick, age 95 and her housekeeper, Marian Rouche (photo) Ms. Melick lives on the fourth floor of a walk-up. She has severe arthritis in her legs and has had a knee operation. She is mostly homebound due to her enlarged heart and hyper-tension. "I have trouble opening my door sometimes. Last week, it was stuck. I placed my heavy winter coat on the floor and used my carry bag as a pillow. I asked the Holy Spirit to watch over me…without my housekeeper, I'd be spending a lot of time on those stairs."
We sent the individual testimonial quotes and facts to the New York Times, which in turn, ran an opinion-editorial. Our client also received significant New York State-wide coverage in numerous newspapers, television and radio stations. We involved the United Jewish Appeal and the local union to create full-page advertorials. We disseminated the booklets to every elected official, commissioner and key mover and shaker. What once seemed like an easy cut to make was verboten to touch for at least the following two years. Albany legislators acknowledged the leading reason for keeping the budget for Housekeeping Services completely intact was due to the omnipresence of the booklets.