Save One Soul
by Larry Pozner
I am watching the fabric of society come apart. I am witnessing the inevitable destruction of untold numbers of innocent families, the disintegration of the American dream. The numbers are frightening:
As many as 60,000 Colorado homes are expected to go into foreclosure this year alone. Colorado lost 64,000
non-farm payroll jobs between December and January. Our unemployment rate has gone from 3.9 percent in 2007 to 6.6 percent in January, hitting a five-year high.
And every one of these anonymous numbers camouflages the name of a human being. As the layoffs, the store closings, the foreclosures pile up, I am beginning to learn some of their names. Now I have friends who have lost their jobs, and friends who go to bed every night wondering if they will be the next one laid off.
Now I recognize businesses that have shut their doors. Now I know families who are barely hanging on. They have lost one breadwinner, and they fear the loss of another. Or worse, they are single mothers who lost their sole income.
Some had a retirement plan, Maybe it was diversified, maybe it was all in company stock. Some had a savings account, perhaps to pay for a college education, or summer camp, or the car they would need when they got a job. If they are lucky, that money will now buy groceries or pay rent.
It is beyond difficult to explain to a child that he is going to have to leave his home because it isn’t going to be his home anymore. The feeling of failure is as debilitating as any disease. There are too many out-of-work bread winners blaming themselves, feeling that somehow it is their fault, that they have let down their loved ones.
And I cannot find fault with the vast majority of these people. What did they do but believe? They believed that if they got a college education, they could find a job and earn a living. They believed that if they went to work for a company and were loyal and productive, there would always be a job for them. Or they believed that if they were frugal and set aside money for retirement, someday they could enjoy the fruit of their life’s labors.
I can neither change the system that allowed this to happen, nor sit silently and watch it happen. I can do precious little — but I can do something.
With the enthusiastic cooperation of my law firm, we are going to create our own little recovery program and call it SOS, for Save One Soul. Here’s how it works: We are going to find somebody who desperately needs a job and we are going to put him or her to work.
We pledge to give employment to at least one more person than we need. It doesn’t count if all we do is make sure we find work for everyone we currently employ. We have to add at least one employee to our business. We have to subtract at least one person from this financial morass. We have to salvage the dignity of one family.
We have to know that one more child will go to bed in his own room. We have to know that we did not hunker down in our own financial bunker, moaning about our own financial setbacks — which are so minor in comparison to the many who surround us.
SOS has no officers. It has no meetings, no dues, and no structure. It exists only to the extent that we and others will it to exist. If you or your company want to participate, then go out and hire one more person. It can be white collar, or blue collar, starched collar or frayed collar. Hire the person who is about to fall through the safety net.
Then send me your name or that of your company. I’ll find a way to let Denver Post readers know how many have joined us.
I hope many names appear alongside ours. But even if we are alone, we will have done something.
Larry Pozner (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a trial lawyer handling criminal defense and business litigation cases at Reilly Pozner LLP. Reprinted with permission. This article originally appeared in The Denver Post on April 6, 2009, and has already appeared in numerous other publications. Several days after the article ran, but before press time for The Docket, reports were coming in from firms who were signing on. Contact Mr. Pozner to tell him about your internal initiative.