Poverty Close to Home – Blog Action Day 2008

by Lance Ekum on · 52 comments

Farwell
Creative Commons License photo credit: three_sixteen

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” ~ Mother Teresa

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to invite writers from all over the world to join in a one day event discussing one issue, and bringing that cause into the forefront.  This year’s theme for Blog Action Day is poverty.

Poverty Close to Home

Suburban America – my home.  Communities seemingly unaffected by the current economic struggles many face.  Everyone with a roof over their head.  Low crime rate.  A “good” place to live…

And yet, just a few miles down the road…

Crime rates up.  Kids missing school on a regular basis.  Families in financial ruin.

And poverty.

And that’s where my story begins.  A couple of years ago…

One of the organizations I am involved with is our local Cub Scout Pack.

After hearing of an organization that was in need of clothing for their shelter, we decided, as a Cub Scout Pack, to have a collection and help out this shelter just down the road about 20 miles.  20 miles.  So close to our homes, and yet a world away.

We collected many items for use with this place non of us had ever heard of before.  This place, Repairers of the Breach, located in downtown Milwaukee, was like a foreign entity to us – us in our large homes, with two cars, with new clothes, with toys for our kids, with food in excess – foreign to even think there was a need for such a place.

We brought items for the collection, because it was the “right” thing to do.  To help out in this season of thanksgiving.  To give and then move on to happier thoughts.

For our small group within the Cub Scout Pack, though, we were charged with delivering these collected items to the Repairers of the Breach.  Would it be “safe” to take a few 3rd graders to a shelter in downtown Milwaukee?  Away from the safety of our suburban neighborhood?

After much discussion, both with parents, and with the “Repairers” organization – we decided we would take a group of parents and kids to the shelter to deliver the items we had.

It was an experience I’ll never forget.

We arrived to this place, really not bigger than a large house, in a very beat up neighborhood.  Not a place I would feel safe at on the streets at night.  We went into this place…

And we were quickly greeted by the director of this organization.  And she quickly introduced us to two of the “regulars” at this shelter – I’ll call them Roy and Larry.  Both Roy and Larry were in beat up, old clothes.  And they smelled not of a recent shower.  But that’s not really what we noticed first.  What we noticed was their upbeat attitude, their true gratefulness at our “gifts” as they helped us unload the clothing we had brought.

And then…

Roy and Larry took us to the basement of their shelter, a day use shelter to help people get back on their feet – to help them break the string of poverty in their lives.  And in the basement, on an old sofa (that we would have thrown away) and a few folding chairs – we sat and spent some time getting to know Roy and Larry.  Hearing their stories.  Having them connect with our children (and us).  And in doing this, poverty and homelessness – things “we” only thought about when it was convenient – seemed very real, very personal.  In connecting with two gentlemen who were living poverty, it became real for us. We felt their heartaches, we understood (at least on some level) their need to be here in this place.  And we saw poverty first hand.  And the sadness that goes along with it.

A day I’ll never forget…

And yet, time has passed, and my life has moved on.  I won’t forget that day, but have I fallen back into the insular world of suburban America?  Back to where my concerns are for that which I see?  Back to where I have lost the personal connection with poverty so close to home?  Back to where I see only my world…

How about you?  Do you “see” poverty in your neigborhoods?  Do you “see” poverty in your world?

Sometimes we think that this is something that is far away from us, that poverty is the thing of third world countries.  Poverty is very real, and very much near us.  We may not always see it, but it’s there.

What can you do to help those “close to home” – those who suffer the effects of poverty?

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
View all posts by Lance Ekum
(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

MizFit October 15, 2008 at 5:37 am

any overwhelming post and question FOR SURE.

while I like to think Ive always lived this way the past few months EVEN MORE I think, before I purchase, DO I NEED THIS?

of course in a SHOULD I SAVE THE MONEY way but also in a “is there someone else who could use the money Im spending here?”

and time.
making the time to volunteer and help those close to home.

checking the weather, seeing when it will be COLDCOLD out at night (not the norm where I live) and taking the TIME to share the warm things we have and dont use with those less fortunate/compelled to face the weather at night…

MizFits last blog post..Once upon a time. In the land where Miz was OprahForADay…

Reply

Chase March October 15, 2008 at 7:23 am

I’m glad to see that Cub Packs are still going strong. I was in Boy Scouts for many, many years. They do a lot of good work and I know that kids benefit from it.

You not only gave back to the community, you’ve taught the kids the value of giving and the value of all people, no matter their situation. I’m sure it’s a lesson the kids won’t forget. I know my Scout teachings have stayed with me and helped shape who I am today.

Good Job!

Chase Marchs last blog post..Poverty in Schools

Reply

Betsy Wuebker October 15, 2008 at 8:04 am

Charity begins at home and then widens in an expanding circle. Opportunities to give are never far. Your post shows the beauty of teaching to share, to become other-directed. Thank you!

Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..ENERGY

Reply

Marelisa October 15, 2008 at 9:07 am

Hi Lance: I don’t think any of us has to go very far to witness poverty, it’s all around us. When I was in law school in Washington, DC there was a homeless shelter like the one you describe in your post just down the street. I would walk past it every day as I went to class and as I returned to my apartment afterward. I think it’s important that children grow up knowing the importance of helping others who are not as fortunate as they are. As always, your post obviously comes from the heart Lance.

Marelisas last blog post..Eradicating Poverty Through Human Ingenuity – Blog Action Day 2008

Reply

Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations October 15, 2008 at 9:15 am

we are very active at our church in mission work and with stuff like this but we are always looking for ways to do more. One way is to think about the concept of dignity. Not looking down on others because they have less than you or because they are in unfortunate times. They don’t require your pity, they require love and to be treated as equal human beings.

Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirationss last blog post..My Dog Missed the Memo

Reply

Dot October 15, 2008 at 10:04 am

When I was younger and healthy, I did a variety of things to help, both on an institutional basis and an individual basis. Now that I am severely limited by illness, I donate. It doesn’t seem like enough.

Dots last blog post..Weeping Willow

Reply

BC Doan October 15, 2008 at 10:07 am

Lance, I’m glad you chose to write about local poverty, which is something I hold close to my heart. It’s hard to see many homeless people sleeping under the bridge’s bypass in the dead of winter, and not able to help them!

Reply

Stacey Shipman October 15, 2008 at 10:55 am

When I lived in the city I saw it more. I walked by it every day. It was hard to ignore. Now in the “safety” of suburbia it’s not as noticeable. But like you said, it’s definitely still there and any little thing we all can do as individuals can make a difference. I have recently begun adding more volunteer activities back into my life, and boy does it feel so good to make a difference in someone else’s life. As you illustrate, sometimes all it takes is to talk, listen, and even shake hands. Helping others, no matter how you do it is an incredible feeling.

Stacey Shipmans last blog post..Success Comes from The Heart

Reply

chris October 15, 2008 at 11:43 am

I’m immersed into poverty everyday with the children that I work with. I do my best to show them that they are actually people that care about them.

chriss last blog post..The Morning Ride

Reply

Sagan October 15, 2008 at 12:04 pm

I live in the downtown area of my city, so I see lots of poverty each day. I give bus tickets out to people when they need to go places and I bought an umbrella for a homeless man one day when it was raining hard.

I don’t do much around home, but I sponsor a child through World Vision so I like to think I’m doing a little bit with that.

Thanks for bringing up this issue!

Sagans last blog post..Don’t leave room for regret

Reply

Writer Dad October 15, 2008 at 12:29 pm

We can ALWAYS lead by example. I see poverty every time I open my window, but I also see solutions. We must all do our best, whether or not others are watching, and hope that they are.

Writer Dads last blog post..Daddy Destitution

Reply

Oktober Five October 15, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Honestly, I hardly ever see poverty, except for the intangible kind. Every once in a while when I’m downtown or getting on the freeway you’ll see people sitting around with obviously no place to go, or they’re asking for money. Like I read somewhere else today, society has, because of consumerism, become to despise poverty instead of pitying it, or looking at it as a unfortunate thing that should be fixed. We so often say to ourselves, “it’s their fault they are where they are.” Of course, it’s hard to judge, but my opinion is that it doesn’t matter. As far as we’re concerned, we need only worry about our own level of commitment to do what is right.

Oktober Fives last blog post..My Scalene Triangle of Poverty

Reply

Julie October 15, 2008 at 1:52 pm

Oh, Lance, you’ve had such a meaningful encounter! …one that, I’m certain, will shape each of the boys involved. What a wonderful thing you did. Being fearless enough to reach out in such a personal way was a beautiful gift you gave everyone that day. It’s the personal touch that is so impactful!

Julies last blog post..Another Kind of Poverty

Reply

Annette October 15, 2008 at 2:05 pm

I try to keep my eyes open for those in need. When we lived in Alabama, there were several children in our neighborhood that were often hungry. Their families knew they could send them over to our house any time of day and I would feed them. Sometimes it was only a PBJ but I know they were grateful. I haven’t had that same thing here in Kansas but as the kids get older we discussed volunteering in shelters around the holidays instead of focusing on ourselves and gifts.

Annettes last blog post..A litte HYC check in…..squeezed in in the midst of morning rush 😉

Reply

Dave Jones, CPA October 15, 2008 at 2:20 pm

I too am in your situation, far enough to be insulated from the issue, but close enough that I can drive through impoverished neighborhoods within 10 minutes.
One thing I find interesting, is that I also find those less fortunate than most to be up beat. You will find others in a much better financial condition always complaining that they do not have enough. In most cases the latter have not learned to appreciate what they have. I think today should be a day for all people able to have internet access and the ability to write a regular blog to be very thankful for what they have. It is truly all about attitude. I will step down from my soap box now.

Dave Jones, CPAs last blog post..Be an Optimist!

Reply

Cath Lawson October 15, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Hi Lance – this is an interesting story. What you described after the encounter is the same way many people will feel after blog action day. Because they’re detached from the experience, they can do nothing about it.

The trouble with poverty in first world countries is that it seems to be a continuous cycle, from one generation to the next – aside from the lucky few who manage to escape.

Those who are living in poverty seem to get the worst education and the worst health – because of the poor education and the cost of healthy food, and the worst housing – more often than not they’re housed in unsafe areas. And all that is passed to the next generation. It’s very sad. Trouble is – the right balance needs to be struck between helping them and helping them to help themselves.

Reply

Vered - MomGrind October 15, 2008 at 3:57 pm

I rarely see poverty around me except for a few homeless people. But right next to our wealthy town there’s another town. The people there are poor. Crime rates are high. Sometimes it amazes me, how life here can be so “perfect” while they live in hell. The best I can do is to donate to local organizations. I don’t ever go there. Too much crime.

Reply

Ellen Wilson October 15, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Hi Lance,

I tell people what neighborhood I live in and they say “oh,” and raise their eyebrows. It’s not a preferred place to live. And I see the effects of poverty all around me and it is depressing.

I used to teach in a few inner city school districts and they get a real bad reputation because the kids are extremely difficult. They aren’t “nice” and middle class. They’re pretty rough and extremely hard to deal with.

The values that people that grow up with in America and a poverty ridden area are totally different than middle class values. Kids don’t value education. I’m not saying EVERYONE feels this way, but it makes it very hard for some of the kids to get an education because teachers are overwhelmed with discipline issues.

The huge ware house type high schools also contribute to the problem. Middle class kids can handle this, but I think in inner cities the schools need to be smaller so kids can get more support and social interaction from their teachers. In Michigan the governor is supposed to get funding for an initiative to develop these smaller schools.

Really, like Cath Lawson states, it is a perpetual cycle. And I do think education is the key. But standards go down because these kids have never had a solid foundation to begin with and it just slides from there.

People have to value education.

Very nice post, Lance. Well written.

Ellen Wilsons last blog post..Work it Like a Turkish Pop Star

Reply

Pink Ink October 15, 2008 at 3:59 pm

I have a friend whose family is struggling financially. But they have a great spirit, and a great family, and I hope to be more like them, counting their blessings and still sharing despite their hardships.

Pink Inks last blog post..Day In the Sun

Reply

Davina October 15, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Hi Lance. This was a powerful story! I agree with Cath that there has to be a balance between helping them and helping them to help themselves. I see poverty everywhere. I can’t walk down a street without passing by someone asking for change. And I rarely give it to them. On the times I have given I’ve found that person still on the same corner asking the same question over and over. It is a neverending cycle. Somehow we are afraid of money itself; we fear either being too successful or being too poor. What’s up with that? (PS I’m not exempt from this “fear factor”).

We have to believe: we can help ourselves, we can help others, we are worthy of help from others…

Davinas last blog post..Blog Action: Pass The Change, Be The Change

Reply

Maya October 15, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Lance,
What a wonderful story. I saw a lot of poverty growing up and I believe strongly that it has made me who I am. I have seen very little since I have been in the US . Now that I have kids I wonder how I can show them what poverty really is … I guess we will have to get out and do our part like you did.
Very inspiring story. Thank you!

Mayas last blog post..The key to happiness and balance is right with you, just learn to use it – Part 2 of the thinkmaya framework

Reply

meleah rebeccah October 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Wow. I am blown away by this post.

I do believe that charity begins at home, and the old adage, its takes a “VILLAGE.” By extending one’ self just to a neighbor may be a nice place to start helping to end poverty,

meleah rebeccahs last blog post..Happy 1st Birthday…To My Nephew M.D.W.

Reply

Stacey / Create a Balance October 15, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Lance, I appreciate this post. My oldest son is almost 5 and we often talk about “boys without toys”, “boys without mommies”, etc. He knows little boys live in a world without shelter, food, and love. Soon, as her grows, reaching out to these boys without toys will be a powerful experience for all of us.

Tonight, we will be going room to room and boxing up a new round of toys to give to the “boys without toys”.

Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..Take Action! Help Children Impacted by Poverty

Reply

Mark Salinas October 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm

A fantastic share my friend…so much can be accomplished if we were to pay attention and look outside the box. Very inspiring!Thank you for this post!

Mark Salinass last blog post..The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Reply

Lance October 15, 2008 at 9:17 pm

@MizFit – Yes, it makes me question what I do – but not enough…

@Chase – Thank you. I hope it stays with the kids, even just a bit. They were young when we did this, but still, it was a moment that was not usual for them. And that was good. Good in that they saw the world from a different angle…

@Betsy – Yes, it’s so easy to start close, to start small – and make a difference. It doesn’t have to be grand or extraordinary. Even small acts can have a huge impact.

@Marelisa – Poverty IS all around us – and we’re blind to it sometimes. We live in what I would consider an upper middle-class area. And yet, there is a food pantry in our village, and they are often low on food items. What does this say? Poverty is closer than we think. Seeing (and understanding) poverty is good for kids and adults. Not in the sense that poverty is good, but in the sense that it helps us to feel compassion for those in need. And when we feel compassion, our heart begins to speak. And good things happen…

@Wendi – What you have said is just really spoken from a loving heart. And it’s a reminder to all of us, that life is fragile, that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and everyone SHOULD be treated with dignity. Thank you.

@Dot – We do what we can Dot. Sometimes that may not seem like enough, and that’s because you have a heart that yearns for love.

@BC Doan – I think it’s the local poverty that we can most closely relate to – because we are more likely to see it up close and in real life. And that makes it seem more real, more personal.

@Stacey Shipman – Being in suburbia does mask what is happening in the heart of the cities we’re near. It’s masked because we just don’t see it as much (even though it’s there also). And for me, it gets to be — out of sight, out of mind. I don’t see poverty, so I don’t think about poverty. I don’t think about poverty, so I don’t do anything to help those suffering from poverty. And my life goes on…oblivious to what is happening not too far away. And yet, when I do help out – it does feel so good. And this all reminds me – how can I get back to that?

@Chris – That’s a great thing you do – continue to do that from your heart, and many will benefit.

@Sagan – You do a lot! Sometimes the things we do may seem small and maybe even insignificant, but to the receiver, it is like being given a golden coin. Continue to be a light in your city!

@Writer Dad – Lead by example – excellent advice! Others learn not by what we say, but by what we do. So continue to do the good you do – and other WILL follow!

@Oktober Five – Judging others, easy to do. And yet, we have no idea what these people have been through that led them to where they are today… an important point to remember.

@Julie – You’re absolutely right that it was the personal touch that made this so meaningful. It’s one thing to donate some socks, or a jacket. And another thing completely to step into their lives, if only for an hour or two, and really experience their life…

@Annette – What you did was a wonderful thing for the kids in your neighborhood – and a great example of helping out close to home – where you can make the biggest impact. And, your plans of focusing on others instead of yourselves at the holidays – that will be another great way to give back as well!

@Dave – You bring up an excellent point Dave. That oftentimes, its those who have little who are the most thankful, and also the most willing to help others. And it probably is because they are so grateful for what they do have, and for the help they have received from others. An attitude of gratitude…

@Cath – Detachment…yes, what causes us (me) to forget tomorrow what seemed like such a good idea today. How do we make these issues (poverty, etc) not become detached from our hearts? Helping out today feels good and right, but what happens tomorrow, the day after that, or next month. If we do nothing, do we forget? How do we really become attached to helping?

@Vered – The other side of the tracks… It always amazes me how to very distinct neighborhoods/cities can be so close together geographically, and yet so different. And that becomes very hard when crime is a real issue. It can be hard to balance safety versus assistance…

@Ellen – Education is a real key. I see that here, in the inner city. Well, I see it on the news. Because I don’t put myself in that environment very often (I should, to experience what it’s like for these people more often…). Anyway, education becomes not a priority. Truancy is high. Dropouts – many. And the cycle continues…Smaller schools does sound like an interesting idea – especially in that it might create more bonds between teachers and students – and increase the likelihood of graduation – one step toward ending the cycle…

@Pink Ink – It amazes me sometimes that those who struggle are also those who are most grateful. And it just goes to show that we all have much to be thankful for, no matter what our situation. Do we forget this as our life becomes more comfortable?

@Davina – Getting others to help themselves — to become self-sufficient — is a great place to aim for. Money is not always the answer for this. Because money can lead to a continuation of what led to poverty in the first place (drugs, sex, alcohol, addictions, etc.). If we can find a way to help these people find the road that leads down a new path – a path of positivity in their lives – then we have helped them to turn around their lives…

@Maya – Seeing is believing. Yes, sometimes we have to look for it – here where our lives can seem insulated from it. But poverty is out there. And in showing it to our children, we help to give them a caring heart.

@Meleah – Yes, start close to home. There is much we can do in our neighborhoods, even if all seems good. There are needs out there. And what a great place to start…

@Stacey / Create A Balance – “Boys without toys” – yes, this is sad. It’s sad especially because children really don’t have any control over where they are at on the totem pole of life. They are victims of circumstance. And this is sad. So, reaching out to these people – the young and suffering in the world (and really, close to home) – is a great way to help these kids, and show your own children just what a loving heart can do to help another just like them (only different). You’re doing the right thing Stacey, and teaching your children well what’s really important in life…

@Mark – Thank you! We can accomplish much if we just open our eyes to what is around us and really pay attention…

Reply

Laurie October 15, 2008 at 9:34 pm

As a teacher I have seen many impoverished kids. Teachers ,including myself, provide Christmas for kids in their schools every year. Teachers, find shoes for kids, call dentists to look at a child’s rotting teeth, go through their own kids clothes to see what they can give to a student. We teach children but we sometimes also teach parents how to care for their child. Teachers bring an extra sandwich to school because someone didn’t get breakfast. Teachers buy extra school supplies for kids who show up without any. Teachers sometimes are the only one who believes in a child. Teachers make a difference. :O)

And for all you who want to give a teacher a Christmas present….NO MUGS OR CANDLES PLEASE…..We love gift certificates, unless your child made us something handmade that is!

Reply

Audra Krell October 15, 2008 at 11:08 pm

Hi Lance,
What a powerful post. This is great. I have to admit, we just don’t see much poverty here in North Scottsdale. So, I have always tried to teach my boys that not everyone lives like this. We have done large toy drives in the past, and the boys take the toys down to a clinic and we give them to the children of the patientes. We stay for hours. Once a year is hardly anything though, I think God is asking for a lot more than that. It’s simply a matter of us answering.

Audra Krells last blog post..On the Menu- Taco Soup

Reply

Barbara Swafford October 16, 2008 at 1:38 am

Hi Lance – What a touching story. You’re right. Most of us have poverty very close to us but are blind to it. It’s so easy to close our eyes to it and say, “glad I’m not in that situation”, and walk on. That was very kind of you (and the others) to make time to not only make a donation, but to spend time with the people in the shelter as well. You treated them as human beings and for that I’m sure they will be forever grateful.

Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Did You Pick Your Blog Niche Or Did It Pick You

Reply

Evelyn Lim October 16, 2008 at 6:44 am

There are many poor people around in my country. However, because I come from Singapore – with developing countries struck by floods, tsunamis and earthquakes as neighbours – seeing poverty (and even poorer people) from these areas is really not that far.

I enjoyed reading your story about how you and your team connected with Roy and Larry. Yes, let us not forget that we can do more to help the poor, not just with monetary donations. Thanks for being an inspiration!

Evelyn Lims last blog post..Blog Action Day 08: Poverty

Reply

Grounded Fitness October 16, 2008 at 9:11 am

Growing up, we were poor. not destitute- we always had a place to live, but i remember getting yelled at for snacking because we had to make sure we had enough for meals.

I kind of appreciate it though, because i know the value of a dollar. My friends, who i cant really blame because everything has been handed to them, dont really understand saving for a rainy day, or even that credit card debt is BAD. got crap at first for not going to college and joinin the work force right away, but now the tide is turning where they are about to graduate college, and are going to have to go back to restaurant jobs.

I cant even image what its like for families with NOTHING. Everyone is freaking out about the economy and their IRA’s falling but what about the people that had nothing to begin with?

Kelly Turner
http://www.groundedfitness.com

Grounded Fitnesss last blog post..Bulimic To Personal Trainer: Can Too Much of a Good Thing Be Bad?

Reply

Suzie October 16, 2008 at 9:39 am

Its so good you did that. I used to volunteer in a soup kitchen I found the experience profound as well.

Suzies last blog post..I Think I’ve Let Myself Go

Reply

Munchkins and Music October 16, 2008 at 11:05 am

Thanks for sharing that great story. I know that by helping out like that can change our whole perspective on how we live our life.

Munchkins and Musics last blog post..Teaching Note Values With Note Cards

Reply

Jennifer October 16, 2008 at 11:29 am

Lance, thanks for sharing that with us. I live in a city of plenty. Even though we have one of the smallest houses in the city, it’s new and plenty big for us and more than most people in the world have. I’m humbled every day that I am so blessed. Poverty does seem so far away. When I go back to the small town I grew up in, poverty seems greater there than what I remember. There are so many in poverty, and in the current economic situation it is likely there will be lots more. What can I do? That’s a good question I’ll have to ponder…… My sister-in-laws family goes every Christmas to a soup kitchen and serves dinner.

Jennifers last blog post..What Reality Have You Created?

Reply

Lance October 16, 2008 at 3:50 pm

@Laurie – Teachers really do a lot for our kids – theirs is a job that can be very rewarding, and also very challenging. So, thank you, Laurie, for doing this!

@Audra – It can be hard for kids to realize what goes on in other areas, when they just don’t see it very often – I can relate. We do what we can to teach them to be empathetic to those around them…

@Barbara – That’s it – poverty is probably around most of us, in some form. It may not always be obvious, and sometimes even when it is obvious, we still choose to ignore it. If we all just do a little bit, we could really make a big change…

@Evelyn – Evelyn, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be that close to some of these disasters that have happened, really destroying people’s lives. I wish you well in all you do – yours is a much more volatile situation than we have.

@Grounded Fitness – There is much value in knowing how things can be – since you’ve been through them. In a world where our kids haven’t seen “poor” in their own lives, it becomes harder for them to grasp what this really means. Thanks for sharing your story here Kelly.

@Suzie – Volunteering can really be such a beneficial experience for both the receiver and the giver, thanks for sharing your experiences Suzie.

@Munchkins and Music – It really does change our perspective, thanks for sharing that point. We start to see life through a different lens – a more compassionate lens…

@Jennifer – I too live in an area of plenty. And being here all the time, I start to forget what it’s like not that far away. Or far away. I forget just how good we have it. It is humbling when you really think about it – about how much good we have in our lives compared to some others. And if we really think about that, I think it leads us to be more caring towards those who suffer…

Reply

Melissa Donovan October 16, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Bringing those children to the homeless shelter probably shaped their lives in a very meaningful way. Although solving the problem of poverty falls mostly on adults, it is the people who are children now that will have to continue the fight in years to come and if ever we should be so lucky as to see a day when poverty has been wiped out, it is the children of today who need to keep it that way. Seeing poverty firsthand, while heartbreaking, is crucial for helping these kids (and adults) better understand it. You did good!

Melissa Donovans last blog post..Writing for Animals

Reply

Evita October 16, 2008 at 9:30 pm

This is a beautiful post and indeed so so relevant to so many today.

I am so glad I followed you here from Julie’s blog – it is great to find new gems.

But going back to your post, I don’t think some people realize how much poverty there really is close to home. So many times people think big about other countries and struggle with how they can help there, but one really just needs to look around their own home town and can find many people close by who could use some help no matter what form it comes in. Sometimes even just a hi or a smile can do wonders for a person – just the feeling of being seen and recognized instead of walked passed as if they do not exist.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Evitas last blog post..Where Are We All Going?

Reply

Kelly@SHE-POWER October 17, 2008 at 1:40 am

Beautiful story Lance. I think it’s great when people tell me they donate money to charity, but to really have some understanding of how the poorer members of our countries live we have to get up close and personal. And often, as you found, this can change the way we see ourselves, our home, others and humanity at large.

I was poor as a kid. Not in the starving way because I’m not sure any non-indigenous Australian starves. The indigenous, I am ashamed to say I am less sure. But we had to juggle bills and go without, and I would shop for food with a calculator when I was 13 years old, dragging my 8 year old brother around behind me. We once moved into a house where all we owned was a stereo, a guitar, clothes, a few toys and a table. Sounds bizarre, and looking back it was quite funny. But the Salvation Army were the ones to fit our home with beds and basics and my grandmother gave us this ancient fridge. We relied on the charity of family and the government then and it was a shameful way to live. I swore that when I was older I’d have lots of money, but I would always give to others like the Salvation Army had given to me.

I had the chance to realize my dreams and make whatever life I wanted for myself. And I have given back both of my money and my time. I have worked soup kitchens and worked with street kids, and the stories of how people end up in this tragic situation are sometimes ridiculously simple (mental disease, no family and falling through the cracks in the system) and other times, too horrible to describe. But everyone wants to keep their dignity and if they don’t, isn’t that also a tragedy? Imagine what has happened to them in their life that they have no dignity.

Thanks for sharing your story, Lance and for highlighting the truth that we can live in our nice suburban bubble and pretend that the rest of our country is just like us, when in reality our lives are poles apart.

Kelly

Reply

Mindful Mimi October 17, 2008 at 3:38 am
Lance October 17, 2008 at 5:59 am

@Melissa – Seeing first-hand — and the powerful moment that can bring — thanks for sharing that point Melissa. In really experiencing something, that’s how we feel connected to it. It’s a good reminder for adults as well as parents of kids. We all learn so much more by experiencing it. In this case, while sad, experiencing poverty on a more personal level – does make us “care” more.

@Evita – What we hear about on the news is poverty on very high levels. The “big” and really bad stuff. And yet, on a lower level, this goes on very close to home – no matter where home is. And that really is a great place to start… Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.

@Kelly – Kelly, thank you for sharing your own personal story here. See, it’s through real life stories like this, of people we know, that really make this seem more “real”. That it’s not out “there” and we can just forget about it. It’s real people, doing the best they can sometimes, to get back on their feet. I can tell that your childhood has left you with a very compassionate heart – and that’s a wonderful gift. And, dignity is another great point. We all want to hold onto our dignity. So, that means – in our efforts to help others – it’s also very important that we not take anyone’s dignity away – but work to raise them up. Again, thank you so much Kelly, for sharing your journey. You are a living light in this world…

Reply

Robin October 17, 2008 at 8:25 am

Hi Lance – it must have been satisfying connecting with those people. Over the years I have often fantasised about running a home for homeless people – or something like that. These days I know I will more likely contribute to others’ wellbeing by getting on with the things I am naturally good at right now – which I am doing.

Robins last blog post..Galaxy For Blog Action

Reply

Michelle Vandepas October 17, 2008 at 8:43 am

I drive my daughter 30 minutes to go to school in a ‘poorer’ neighborhood because I love the teacher. And many other parents also drive their children so the classroom has turned out to be a mix match of all types of children, some with money some in poverty, although not extreme poverty by any means. There is one child who lives in a home with three other families and the 5 children all under 6 walk themselves back and forth to school each day….. and I’m grateful that these children are able and willing to go to school, have a hot lunch each day and a loving teacher. Poverty comes in all shapes and sizes, but in the end, we are all just people doing the best we can.

Michelle Vandepass last blog post..Life in Perpetual Beta – Melissa Pierce Audio Interview

Reply

Lance October 17, 2008 at 10:11 pm

@Mindful Mimi – Thanks for stopping by! A lot of great information was shared by bloggers across the world – working together for a common cause.

@Robin – That’s the key – doing what we’re good at. Different ways to help for different people.

@Michelle – Teachers can make all the difference in helping our children reach their full potential. So, that is important. What’s also important is that your daughter is seeing people daily who are not as well off as she is. And this is good for her to realize that not everyone has what she has. That’s a great life lesson, her friends, no matter what their economic status…

Reply

Liara Covert October 18, 2008 at 4:32 am

No matter what your conditions, you have choices about your perception of life. When you believe in favor, when you believe everything that happens to you is a blessing, then your circumstances and those of others will seem to change for the better. It makes sense to develop a mindset and a lifestyle of thanksgiving. Learn to open your mind. Whatever you think, feel and discsuss is a way to send energy vibrations out into the world. Every human being is at a certain stage of mental, emotional and other kinds of development. Every choice you make affects the world. Never underestimate the difference you make, no matter where you are. If you relate at all to Mother Teresa, she said, ‘I am only a pencil in the hands of God.’

Reply

rummuser October 18, 2008 at 10:19 am

Lance, I am from India. WE ARE NEVER TOO FAR FROM POVERTY. Urban poverty, rural poverty, poverty of the spirit, name it, we have it all here. None of us are immune to the impact this has on our society and in a variety of ways, all of us do something or the other about it.

Slowly, but steadily, we are solving this problem, quite a bit of which is due to the liberalization of our economy and some fantastic work done by NGOs.

rummusers last blog post..Declare Emergency In India

Reply

Lance October 18, 2008 at 2:31 pm

@Liara – You have said this wonderfully Liara! We choose – and in so doing, we can choose to help others or not. And in choosing to help, we ARE making a difference in a positive way. And that’s a great feeling to have. Mother Teresa was an amazing person, thanks for sharing some of her knowledge with us here.

@Rummuser – I sometimes think things seem bad here for people when I see a homeless person on the street, or someone begging for money. But you remind me that there are many places in the world which suffer much more than where I am from. Continue to be a light to those in need…

Reply

Robin Easton October 18, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Oh dear Lance, this moved me to absolute tears, the way your heart shines here on these pages. I am so inspired by it. I’m deeply grateful that there are people like you in the world that let their hearts guide and motivate them, people who care, love and inspire.

You are very amazing. Know that, because you’re making a positive difference as you move into the world. And there are those (including myself) who really FEEL it and soak up the sweet truth of it.

This is a story beyond words for me. All I can say is keep listening to that beautiful heart of yours. You are shining brighter than you realize. And it is only people like you who make a difference. What a gift you give your children. Hugs to you, Robin

Robin Eastons last blog post..“Nobody Could Love Me”

Reply

FitMom October 20, 2008 at 8:07 am

Donating. Teaching my children that their are others children who live without.

I taught in the inner city schools for almost ten years and I heard many stories about the poverty that my students lived in. I just tried to focus on the student. Love them and care for them while at school.

FitMoms last blog post..Love Cycling? Take your kids, too!

Reply

Lance October 21, 2008 at 3:08 pm

@Robin Easton – Thank you, Robin, for your very kind words. I feel, very much, that your heart is one of compassion, that you, too, have much love for our world. Continue to do good in all your travels. Hugs back to you Robin…

@FitMom – Teaching in inner city schools – that is a job that has to be difficult, and yet rewarding at the same time. Helping just one student to make the right choices, a powerful experience. Thanks for sharing your journey FitMom!

Reply

cheritycall October 27, 2008 at 3:08 am

How are you?, Give something to help the hungry people in Africa or India,
I made this blog about them:
at http://tinyurl.com/6bz6t7

Reply

mymnPrawn April 22, 2009 at 7:00 am

emm. cognitively..

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

You will receive an email with any replies to your comment. Check this box only if you want to be notified of ALL follow-up comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: