Rachael. Rachael is a woman I posted about last week. She lost her daughter in July and has been sharing Hannah stories on her blog. I simply love her writing and my heart just aches for her. Well, unfortunately she has had some people who think she shouldn't be sharing stories/whatever on her blog via her comments. (Assholes) She received many comments that are in complete support of her doing whatever she needs to on her blog. After all, if you don't like it...don't read it! A woman who reads Rachaels blog had this wonderful idea to support Rachael and her blogging by writing a post about something you would normally "hold your tongue" about. See here
I really hemmed and hawed over what topic to write about. Sexual assault, domestic violence, death penalty, politics, rudeness, judgementalness, etc. As I sit here I'm still unsure what will flow from my fingers. I'm hoping it comes to me in a moment of brilliance here. I'm supposed to write about something that I am passionate about yet be nice. Or a topic that may spur some ire, but be polite about it.
So, here goes.
I'm going to share my experiences with public assistance, aka "welfare." I've heard many comments from many people that are very disrespectful to those who need assistance. The misconception is that the people on welfare want to get money for free and not work. For the majority of people receiving assistance, nothing could be further from the truth. The rules in our state with the W-2 program necessitate that individuals work or be looking for work in order to receive benefits and then the benefits only last for so long. One can only work so many hours or your benefits get cut, but either way you don't have enough money to pay for bills and feed yourselves. And if you have children, how do you pay for daycare? What about the people who were middle class but got laid off and now can't find a job.
I grew up in a single parent household. My mom worked and went to school to try and create a better life for the both of us. I vividly remember going to 29 Super and using food stamps to buy groceries. It was so embarrassing to realize not everyone else uses that funky looking money to pay for food. Or that other kids don't get their clothes from Goodwill. My mom worked hard to provide the best life she could with what she had, and for that I am immensely rich with appreciation. Thankfully I don't ever recall ever feeling the sting of someone's disrepectful comments to us because we were on welfare. I'm sure they were said, just not loud enough for us to hear. I remember getting that blue card in the mail every month that ensured us healthcare.
I worked at a place where we served people who were on medical assistance. A few of my coworkers would make comments about those individuals and how "they" were paying for these people's services. I would try to explain that maybe someone was down on their luck or whatever, but often times it would be brushed aside. After a while you just don't say anything anymore.
Are there individuals who are milking the system? Of course, and they should be caught and punished. But many people who are receiving assistance are trying to make it day by day, living paycheck to paycheck. Can we give a pat on the back to those who have worked hard to get off assistance? In all the complaints I've heard about "those" people on welfare, there has never been talk of the people who got off welfare. "Those" people want to be productive citizens to society. And to treat them like lepers is not going to endure them to wanting to take part in society.
There are plenty of misconceptions and misinformation out there about state assistance. All I ask is that you educate yourself on the poverty conditions in your area and put yourself in "those" shoes. Sometimes a little understanding and compassion can go a long way. Sometimes you can't help the circumstances you were born into, life handed you, whatever. It's what you do to rise above it that matters.