I can’t start this blog post before addressing the most remarkable aspect of our journey thus far. Our success in meeting the needs of numerous people, primarily families, over these last few weeks is nothing short of inspiring. We have managed, with YOUR support, to provide families with groceries, diapers, furniture, clothing, transportation. You name it. We brought a group of compassionate, kind-hearted women together to shower a new Mom and baby in love and support. Perhaps most important to point out is that we have demonstrated to so many individuals and families that we are a community who refuses to leave them behind. That we can and will rally together in their times of need. We truly have eased their burdens and strengthened their spirits.
That being said there are a few things I feel urged to highlight. I have encountered many different circumstances throughout this process, some of which have quite literally left me with tears streaming down my face. Some situations have left me angry, overwhelmed and fueled to address issues so much bigger than we are at this stage. The “system”, we’ll say, is so infuriatingly broken and it has become undeniably clear to me WHY we are doing what we are doing. And WHY the pathways out of poverty are so challenging and complex.
During the course of these somewhat disheartening revelations there have also been some encouraging and noteworthy aspects that have remained consistent.
Number one: People do not need nor do they request substantial amounts of money to lighten their loads. Do you know what the majority of those individuals who are requesting our services are asking for?? Food.. Food! Food to nourish their families and fill their children’s bellies. Diapers and wipes to keep those sweet little baby bums clean and comfortable. People have reached out requesting assistance with transporting themselves or their children to necessary appointment or to extra-curricular activities. Furniture to facilitate family time and to provide their children with what most would see as standard sleeping conditions. For the most part, what those plagued by poverty are seeking is to live (even for just a few weeks or even days) without the exhausting and tormenting burden of wondering how they’re going to feed themselves and how many diaper changes they have to limit themselves to between now and pay day.
Number two: People simply do not ask for help they don’t need. In fact, they’ll outright refuse it. I have had several people respond or contact me before a drop off and say thanks but no thanks. I can “make it work”—give it to someone else who needs it. This has been mind-blowing for me. Okay so wait… people who struggle every day to make ends meet refuse assistance because they can make it work.. And because someone else might need it more? Yup. Not only that, some have even gone as far as saying no they won’t take the help in the event that it could be better allocated… BUT they also would like to volunteer or help others in any way they can. They have offered their time and what little resources they have to us to utilize in an effort to better the lives of others in similar situations. This alone has been the only validation I’ve needed to continue working tirelessly to ensure this organization is a success.
Number three: There is SO MUCH MORE to providing these beautiful people with basic necessities than what meets the eye. It’s not only about food and amenities. It’s about showing up, no questions asked, and saying I am here for you. WE are here for you. Your community wanted to provide you with the gift of unconditional, judgement-free support. That’s what they are hearing. We are expressing to them that we will stand by them now and continue alongside them until poverty releases its grasp on their lives.
PLEASE know that you have all played an immeasurably vital role in turning wants and needs into a reality. Into food on the table and beds for babies to sleep in. We, thus far, have relied solely on individual support to allow us to accomplish what we have accomplished. Out of thirty some businesses I personally contacted I received very little response and absolutely no aid. But SO many of you have responded. With arms and hearts wide open, you have lit fire to this organization and as a result we are well on our way to cultivating a more equitable and inclusive community. PLEASE stay engaged and excited because we are ALREADY breathing hope into the lives of many. And let me tell you something— they are all so very grateful.
“Poverty is not a lack of character. It’s a lack of money. A lack of opportunity. A lack of investment. It’s when society turns it’s back on you and makes you invisible.” -unknown
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