It's National Action Day and bloggers who committed to participate agreed that on this day, they would blog about poverty from their own personal perspective. Here is mine:
I have a background in social services working in homeless shelters, supportive housing programs and community organizations. But today, I want to talk to you about a particular period in my life. That time was when I was a single parent living in a HUD subsidized complex with my two young sons. My child support payments amounted to a whopping $75.00 per week and just barely covered my childcare expenses while I worked in a minimum wage job. At the time, minimum wage was $3.25 per hour.
There were times when money was especially tight. Times when I wasn't receiving child support at all in the days prior to child support enforcement meant that you had to pay to hire your own attorney to take your ex to court for non-payment.
I am extremely grateful to my parents who were there to help me during those difficult times. They ensured that we had enough food, the utilities stayed on and we had clothes on our backs. We were living in what is called situational poverty. Meaning poverty brought about by a particular situation and resolvable with time and the right opportunities.
In the complex I lived in and in the work I later did, I had plenty of opportunity to come in contact with people who have been raised in generational poverty. Poverty that persists through more than one generation and I can tell you this, all of the people I have worked with have had hopes and dreams and desires of their own to over come their circumstances and better their lives.
They key is access to services that truly work to help someone move ahead AND people who are willing to be mentors. Mentors are people like you and me who are willing to assist someone in succeeding. To teach them about how to handle situations differently, to overcome the tyranny of the moment and plan for the next day, the next paycheck, the next step on the next goal. I was assisted by my parents but I have to admit that there were others who believed in me as well. People who saw something in me that was worth their time. That told me I could do it. They are men and women whom I will never forget and will be grateful to always. I repay their kindness to me by turning around and giving it to someone else. From them I learned to lead by example, teach what you can, share what you know and let your faith do the guiding.
Is there someone you know who could benefit from your support? Do you want to help and don't know how? Ask them what they need, you don't have to fix it, just listen and see if there is some small step some piece of information you can give them. It may seem small to you but I promise you, it is huge to them and they will repay you by giving back to others.