Poor. Say it with me. POOR people. Why is the word “poor” such a dirty one? Poverty is something that is experienced by many and yet it is an issue that we, as a community and as individuals, try so desperately to hide. We tend to shy away from discussions of financial hardship and therefore limit our access to help and supportive individuals.
WHY is being poor so shameful?
I can answer that pretty simply for us all I think.
We, at Linking Lives, hear the concerns expressed by those who lean on us in times of need with regards to the humiliation they feel having to contact us. Across the board the individuals we work with inform us that they “hate to ask for help”. That they don’t want to have to take help but it’s their last resort to feed their children. That coming to us or anyone else for income assistance is an embarrassment… which leads me to my next question. If you need help with childcare do you hesitate to ask friends or family? No. How about if you’re going on a trip and you need a friend to let your dog out while you’re gone… do you refrain from asking for fear of judgement? Probably not.
So why have we created a society in which it is unacceptable and degrading to struggle financially?? Isn’t it true that statistics would suggest we’re ALL a few paychecks away from being POOR?… Let’s see a show of hands from those of us reading this that are living paycheck to paycheck.. (Insert me shamelessly raising my hand high in the air).
Poverty is and always had been a societal issue. What it IS NOT… is the fault of the individuals in our communities who are unable to overcome it. The rise in poverty rates, particularly the rise in rates of people and families living in “deep poverty” (those with incomes less than $16,000 annually) is a tragedy for those experiencing it. These rates are, however, an embarrassment for the communities and governing bodies as a whole. These statistics, in my opinion, are indicative of a lack of committed community members working towards the common goal of poverty reduction.
Now these are all fancy ways of me saying what I have said all along. Let us stop watching each other go without. It should be said that the only thing reprehensible about poverty afflicted individuals reaching out for assistance would be if, given the opportunity, we chose not to help!
When my Husband and I struggled last year following a life-threatening accident people loved us and supported us through it. We felt no shame. No embarrassment. What we felt was immense gratitude and confidence in our neighbors, friends and family to be there at a time in which we needed them. We are ALL deserving of that same level of reliance on our fellow community members, should a need arise!
The city of Fredericton is a tremendously compassionate, empathetic and supportive community. We have seen this time and time again. We raise money for the chronically ill, for our neighbors following accidents, natural disasters, fires and those who suffer from other unfortunate life events. I KNOW we are capable of meeting the needs of the poor, too. The difference is this— one donation, one approach or one fundraising event won’t suffice when it comes to solving the problems of the poor. But instead, a collective, on-going, supportive mind-shift and lifestyle change is what we need! Steadfast engagement and remaining involved! Start supporting LOCAL families who are struggling on a bi-weekly or monthly basis (we can help you with that!). Buy a few extra grocery cards a month when you’re doing your own shopping. When you buy your child a snowsuit, if you’re able, buy two. Send more than enough school supplies and please….PLEASE…. reach out to someone you that you KNOW is struggling and shine some light on their situation!
Keep “poor people” in your minds and in your hearts and make an unwavering commitment to do your part.. and encourage those you share your lives with to do the same.
If you are reading this and you are struggling… contact us. And contact us knowing that we will happily help you, to the best of our ability, without judgement of any kind. More importantly, know that we are here for you NOT out of obligation but based on a genuine desire to better your life—We think you’re worth it!
I am NOT a “dreamer”… in fact I despise being referred to as such. I’m also far from an idealist or a girl with ridiculous unobtainable goals for the future. Poverty reduction in our city IS possible… and it is far easier than we may think it is.
PLEASE consider getting involved.
Contact us! And consider donating towards poverty reduction in your city by etransfer to: firstname.lastname@example.org or donating via our gofund me page listed below!
Stay active and keep talking about these issues— together we ARE making a difference.
“The best part is when it transitions from a community service to a friendship.” -Steve Kolter