To everyone who has ever judged or belittled someone on “welfare”. Read this. And before you form another judgement-know that it is true. In the summer of ’85 I found myself a single mother who came to the harsh realization that you could not support two children on a minimum wage job. Putting myself through Cosmetology School was one of the hardest and most eye opening year of my life (and my childrens). It was a struggle EVERY DAY and the once a month visits to the Division of Family Services office to put your whole life on someones desk was horriffic. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be totally reworked from the ground up. It is a system where it is all (I use that term loosely) or nothing. Sometimes people just need a little help. But this system isn’t designed for helping-it is designed to making you totally dependent and to take away your self respect and break your spirit. The holidays were especially hard and even now bring back that time of my life where every day brought a new fight for survival. So, give willingly to help people. Donate to that food pantry. Some of the most humbling experiences of my life were having to go to an organization called “LOVE” (Local Organization for various emergencies) and tell them that the $200 of food stamps didn’t quite get us through the month. $200 for 3 people. For a Month. This could not be used to buy anything that was non-food. No toilet paper, no laundry detergent, no feminine hygiene supplies, no cleaning products of any kind. Think about that. We lived off of $289 AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and $200 in Food Stamps. $289 paid our rent, our utilities (once a year we received energy assistance that paid about a month and a half) our phone, gas for my car and everything that wasn’t covered by Food Stamps. Until you have had to rip coupons out of a book and hand them to a cashier who is looking at you like you are something you scrape off of the bottom of someones shoe then I don’t want to hear any judgmental crap about someone being on assistance coming out of your mouth. Until you child asks you if they can have a candy bar and you are adding up everything in your cart as you shop and know that you don’t have an extra quarter and you have to tell that child that you are sorry, but you just don’t have the money then keep your condescending attitude in check. Truth-that which does not kill us makes us stronger. My kids are stronger and kind, generous, successful adults. That was a whole lifetime ago for me-but I haven’t forgotten it. So I am that person who gives to the energy program through my local utility. Who picks up those extra groceries, toilet paper, laundry detergent, feminine hygiene supplies, cleaning product and donates them when I can. Because there are times when we all might need a little help.
Leisa on The Things We Do For Love