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The 3-Minute Interview: John Horejsi of Social Action Living Together

Horejsi is a Vienna resident and the founder of Social Action Linking Together, or SALT, a group focused on seeking legislation to aid those in need. He was recently named one of the 30 Outstanding Social Justice Makers in Virginia.

Tell me about SALT. What are its goals?

It's a ragtag social justice advocacy group dedicated to positively influencing public social policy and legislation on behalf of low-income Virginia families. We're a nonpartisan group that focuses on the issues, not the candidates.

Why start this organization?

I attended a workshop in the early '80s on homelessness and was invited back again the next year. The conference was something centered around hunger. One of the participants got angry, and his anger was directed toward himself. He said, "I learned about this but I haven't done anything with it." That really stuck with me. Good information is useless unless you go home and do something with it.

What were some of the first issues you worked on?

We learned that Virginia was charging sales tax on food stamps, so we made this our issue. We talked to Virginia lawmakers to lobby our cause, but those talks went nowhere, even though everyone agreed that it was a horrible policy. So we then turned to a senator, Sen. Ten Kennedy, actually, and he helped us put in a bill to stop the markup bill and stop the tax.

What is the most important thing this organization has taught you?

You have a voice and you can make a difference. If you use your voice, and you have a cause and persistence, you can do this. You do need persistence, because you oftentimes get a lot of sympathy but no action. But the message I tell everyone is: "Use your voice."