The book, which came out this year, is No Greatness without Goodness – How a Father’s Love Changed a Company and Sparked a Movement. It is the story of former Walgreens Senior Vice President, Randy Lewis, which he tells in first person. Raising an autistic son inspired him to lead Walgreens towards a reality, where 10% of their workforce is made up of persons with disabilities. He did this without sacrificing anything on the business end of the ledger. He is emphatic about the fact that this can work in any company, and in fact has inspired other companies to do the same as Walgreens. He insists that this is all out of a sense of justice, not charity.
Since when you are a hammer everything is a nail, while reading this I obviously reflected on what this might mean for our fight to end homelessness. Homelessness is primarily an issue of poverty, while chronic homelessness, is an area where poverty and disability meet and exacerbate each other. Could such policies, like the one Lewis led at Walgreens, help in this area? I can’t see why not. He gives specific examples of people, who due to their disabilities, were never given a chance to find meaningful employment. Once his policies were enacted, they joined Walgreens, and now serve as valuable employees. An obvious result of this, is that they leave the ranks of the poor.
The larger theme that he talks about is instructive too. We have achievable goals in place to end veteran homelessness and chronic homelessness in the next two years. We are already “breaking the mold” in the area of homelessness, in general, with the funding of Rapid Rehousing programs for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. However, these achievements and initiatives will not solve the problem of those who are “doubled-up” with friends or family, who are probably number around 7.5 million people in our country. They most certainly will not solve the challenges people face every day living in substandard housing or housing they cannot afford. The only solution to these problems, and at the end of the day, the only thing that will help cure poverty is if our country decides to act as it should, and truly invest in ending poverty out of a sense of obligation, justice and love.