Salvation Army Celebrates Hope: Q&A with Senator Vincent Hughes

May 11, 2023

Salvation Army Celebrates Hope: Q&A with Senator Vincent Hughes

Passion shines through the work of leaders in Greater Philadelphia like Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes. Among Sen. Hughes’ greatest passions is rallying a community to focus on the greater good through service to all.  As Commander Evangeline Booth, daughter of the founders of The Salvation Army, once said, “There is no reward equal to that of doing the most good for the most people in the most need.”  

On May 10, Sen. Hughes, along with his wife, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, received the Doing the Most Good Community Leadership Award at the Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army’s annual Celebrate Hope Annual Luncheon. The Salvation Army sat down with Sen. Hughes, who represents the 7th Senatorial District (parts of Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties), to learn more about what inspires him to get a community together to serve and work toward equity. 

How community-oriented would you say your role in the Senate is?

Every decision I make, every issue I advocate for, and every piece of legislation I introduce is done with my community and constituents in mind.  Right now, people in Philly and Pennsylvania are struggling with housing, the impacts of gun violence, mental health needs, and making sure their child has access to a good education in a healthy and safe learning environment. 

I know these issues are top of mind for folks in my district and across the Commonwealth, and I take them very seriously. I’m talking to folks every day to make sure we’re investing in resources and organizations who are ready to help. I’m working with great organizations like Read to Succeed, Yeah Philly, and Rebuilding Together to stop the suffering and struggle that hardworking people are facing. If I’m not focused on my community, I’m not doing my job. 

What do you enjoy most about serving as a state senator?

Being a senator gives me greater capacity to do more, for more. My job allows me to move big policy issues and help individuals in need. 

What fuels your interest in health equity – everything from providing health insurance to the uninsured to your HIV/AIDS advocacy work?

Health equity and access to quality healthcare should not be a complicated issue. I fight for and believe in health equity because it’s common sense. There should be no alternative. Why should one person or neighborhood have access to better healthcare than another? 

When I met Sheryl, I was extremely impressed with all she had done with her DIVA Foundation. Her work was driven by the same idea – those suffering from HIV/AIDS should have the same quality and access to care as everyone else. It’s that shared belief and value in people’s lives that made it easy for us to work together for this important cause. 

How did you first hear about The Salvation Army?

I’ve been aware of The Salvation Army since I was a child. I’ve always admired the good work they do for local communities and people who are in need.

How does it feel to be the 2023 recipient of The Salvation Army’s Doing the Most Good Award?

It’s an honor to receive this year’s Doing the Most Good Award. It’s even more special to receive the award alongside my lovely and talented wife. Sheryl and I have a shared value of giving back and we love working together on community events like our Breaking the Silence event to support mental health and other initiatives that support scholarships and literacy. Her big heart and generosity always inspire me. I’m so proud to receive this recognition with her. 

What does “Doing the Most Good” mean to you?

Doing the Most Good means making an impact when you can, where you can. You don’t need to be television’s favorite teacher, Barbara Howard, or a state senator to see someone in need and step up. Doing the Most Good isn’t about one person doing it all, but a collection of people coming together to combine their abilities and powers to make the world a better place. When we all work toward a common goal, we are doing the most good. 

What would you say to others who are considering how they can use their gifts to make a positive difference in the community?

Take action and make it happen. There are so many ways to help others and contribute to communities. If you stand on the sidelines as just an observer, or even worse, are someone who complains and calls out everything that’s wrong with the world, you’re wasting your potential and missing an opportunity to contribute to something much bigger than yourself.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” If you see a problem, do something about it. There’s a good chance an organization or non-profit is already working on that problem and would love to have your support.

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