I have been tagged by 3 people over the last couple of months … and I will be doing my blog tomorrow (Wed at the latest) to respond (and thank) to the tags and to tag some of you!! In the meantime I will share this story I have promised you – a story that inspired me greatly!Â This was something I read (years ago).Â I forget the source and some the of the details may be somewhat inaccurate but sticking with the essential truth of the story.Â (I am better on broad strokes than details around remembering thingsÂ … oh, that can be one of my things to tell you the tagged items tomorrow <grin>.)Â If you want to skip my prologue and epilogue, go right to the story in bold red.
Slipping, Digital Â© Diane Clancy
These first paragraphs are giving background information for those unfamilar with these issues. In the United States issues around welfare are seen as a big deal.Â In this country, we give some people a monthly stipend and health care for themselves (and often they have children also) so that they may live. This happens when people apply for help because they cannot do it themselves. In this country there is often a negative stigma to asking for this kind of aid.Â Also many of us who have disabilities have also had to ask for help (disability payments) to survive. Unfortunately, there is a lot of judging by many toward those needing help.
Other countries tend not to have the same judgments about helping people to have a roof over their heads, food in their tummy and health care.Â But in this country there are often pretty tough attitudes toward people needing help.Â (I know -Â I was on disability for a long time – because I needed it to live). People can become dependent on help for sure … but many people use it for a short term assistance until they can keep a job with a livable wage.
There are many other issues that complicate things for people wanting to get a job that will support themselves and their families.Â Some areas have entrenched poverty.Â Often the educational system is not giving everyone equal opportunities to get quality education.Â Also, there are many personal issues that can complicate things for many.Â And, the US, unlike most other so-called developed countries, does not provide health care for all.Â Many people, especially women, have felt they needed welfare because they couldn’t make the jump to a job that provided health coverage for themselves and their children. I tell you this to set the background for this uplifting story.
[THE STORY] There was a group of welfare recipients who were chosen to see if they could work together and figure out how to get off welfare and get back to work.Â Most people would rather be working (in a decent job environment) … rather than collecting welfare.Â But it is often hard to know what steps to take once you get to a place of needing help.Â This was a study set up by someone to see what might help get people another level in their lives.
So this group started meeting and talked about what was in their lives that they needed help with.Â One woman said her screen door was ripped and the landlord wouldn’t return her calls.Â A man spoke up … he said he knew how to fix that and would be delighted to!!Â Out of this interaction, this was the start of his creating his own fix-it business and he was able to become self-supporting.
Another woman shared that it was needing childcare that was the roadblock to her going to the local community college so that she could learn skills to support herself.Â A third woman spoke up, saying that her kids were at home and she would welcome taking care of some others.Â Out of this interaction, the third woman started her own daycare and become self-supporting.Â The second woman completed her degree and was able to get a job so she could support herself and her children.Â [End Story}
This inspires me so much!! It is the whole idea of looking at people and seeing their assets and not just their deficits. The usual welfare system (and disability system) are focused on seeing people as needy and not seeing their strengths also. That was what was (and is) so inspiring to me around this short part of the story that I remember.Â I do think it is important that people contribute to society – and there are many, many ways to contribute.
I think helping people build on their skills is a smart thing to do.Â Most people are eager to be able to give – but it is harder to think about others when your own (and your children’s) basic needs aren’t being met.Â This kind of supporting people to be empowered and self-sufficient is more time and money consuming at the beginning, but has an excellent pay-off.Â It is like giving kids a quality education is much better (and cheaper) for society – in the long run. Remember, any of us could be in a situation of needing help from others!!
If you want to see the 2 articles I wrote in early December (they were the precursors to this), you can see them here (World AIDS Day and Me) and here (HIV/AIDS and Community Organizing). I hope you enjoyed this inspiration of these 4 people … and please forgive all the surrounding details to put it in context for those who live outside the US. Thanks for coming by!
~ Diane Clancy