William Fischer

As Interviewed by Natalie Fischer, April 29, 2019

William Fischer: In His Own Words

My name’s Will Fischer, and I’m a policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. What we do is try to make a case that these programs really are important and really do help people a lot, because there’s lots of research showing that there’s just lots of people who need help. There’s just millions and millions of people who are, some of them are actually homeless, living in the streets. Sometimes they’re doubled up with other families, or there are a lot of people that have apartments of their own but just can barely afford it, so the rents so much, and they’re not earning very much from their jobs, and they end having to spend less on food, and medicine, or clothing for their kids. And a lot of times, because they’re just barely paying the rent they’re at risk of losing their homes and getting evicted. There’s a lot of people who pretty frequently run out of money and aren’t able to pay their rent, and their landlord evicts them. Then they have to go try to find another place that they can’t afford, or they become homeless. That’s really bad especially for families that have kids, for the kids there, because it means they’re pulled out of their school and often they have to go to a different school, and so that’s really hard for them, and they have to be in a whole new neighborhood with different friends. That is really disruptive for those people too.

I was a volunteer in this big brother big sister program there. They work all over the country, but there was one of them that was on my college campus. They were asking for people to volunteer, so I saw it and said “Hey maybe I’ll try doing this.” What they do is they assign you to be a big brother, or a mentor, to a kid usually from a poor neighborhood. I went and hung out with this elementary school kid every few weekends. He lived in a neighborhood where people were really poor and there was a lot of drug dealers, and the houses were in pretty bad condition. His name was Brandon. He was a really nice kid and he had a nice family. They just didn’t have a lot of money and the neighborhood they lived was a challenging place for a kid to grow up. What I would do is I would get together with him -- I think it was probably about once every three or four weekends we would get together. I’d go out to his house usually and pick him up and bring him down to campus. Sometimes we’d go to museums or sometimes we’d just play basketball, or I ‘d help him with his homework. I was just kind of trying to do whatever I could to help him out. We did this for just about all four years I was there. I learned a lot from it and I hope it was something that was helpful for him, but for me it was an eye-opening experience that I learned a lot from.