Jenn’s Words: “Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis. “

words

Thank you to Jenn for sharing her personal story of living in poverty right now….

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Today, I did something I never thought I’d do. I yelled at my son for being hungry. Oh sure, there are many parents nodding in agreement because they’ve done the same thing. Many have yelled at their kids for asking for one more snack right before dinner was served or for wanting to eat junk food out of boredom. That’s not why I yelled. I yelled because I didn’t have extra food to give him and I was taking my frustration out on him. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. He’s just a kid, a 7 year old who is full of energy and constantly growing. Of course he’s hungry often. That’s what kids do. However, I didn’t have enough food for anyone to have extras. Everything has to be rationed out over a week or more. Food stuff needs to be stretched. Already angry and frustrated with our situation, I lost my cool when my child asked a simple question – because I knew there was nothing I could do to change it in that moment. My anger turned to worry, another constant feeling in my daily life, as I wondered if this would create food issues in my child. Will he be afraid to eat, knowing that we might not have enough the next day?
I’m 35 years old. I am a mother and a wife. I am college educated, degreed, and I have held a professional license. I have been working since the age of 18. Until now. I live in poverty. I am poor. My family is poor.

When I say I am poor, I don’t mean that it’s going to take me two weeks to save for a new iPad or the next iWhatever. I don’t mean that I’ll need a coupon to shop at J.Crew. I mean that I have saved my kids Halloween candy for times when my blood sugar gets too low after a day of not eating because I can’t afford enough food for 3 square meals for the entire family. It means that having my heat set above 60 degrees is a luxury. It means that the needle on my gas gauge is constantly hovering at E. It means that we wear our clothes several times before laundering because we can’t afford the fees to use the washing machines. It means the thrift shop is damn expensive. It means so many more things that we don’t often think about unless we’re living in poverty. As a culture, we are disconnected to the idea of not having access to the most basic needs. Consumerism and materialism are supposedly signs of a healthy economy and successful nation, environment be damned, and a blind eye towards those less advantaged is a requirement.

Our story of poverty doesn’t come with credit card bills, expensive cable packages, luxury toys. It’s not that anyone should be judged for why they are poor, but people naturally ask, mostly out of curiosity and sometimes to find information to justify their lack of care for your position, for a way to blame you for your own situation. It makes it easier to detach. We have both been hard workers for over a decade. We have played by the rules. It still got us. I am currently unemployed – and that’s not for a lack of effort. My husband lost a fairly good job over a year ago and we’ve been pulled down a spiral ever since. His period of unemployment meant we burned through our savings and our emergency fund. While I am still unemployed (to be fair, I do walk dogs or babysit on occasion for some cash, but those times are few and far between), my husband is currently working three jobs. Three jobs. My husband is not college educated. He has worked on the warehouse/shipping/receiving side of retail for a very long time and is good at what he does. He’s very strong, enjoys physical labor, and is a hard worker. His three jobs are retail-based. Two of them pay exactly minimum wage. The third pays just above that. He is constantly applying for jobs on a weekly basis, as am I. With three jobs, you can imagine he works many hours. There have been weeks were he worked all three jobs back to back with maybe an hour or two in between. Thanksgiving to the New Year were brutal. He would often work nearly 30 hours in a row, come home to sleep for a few hours, then go back for another cycle of 30 hours. It’s been brutal on his health and our family.

Will someone stop for a moment and tell me in what world is it considered moral for a person to work three jobs and still be unable to support their family. It just isn’t right.
Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis. It’s pulling yourself out of a hole, only to fall over a cliff. Every step in the right direction is rewarded with a hearty push several steps back. The changes to one’s mental health when living in poverty can be astonishing. I suffered a miscarriage years ago and I knew anger and sadness then. I made my way through it and survived. I didn’t think I would feel such strong emotions again. I was wrong. The anger is back. Anger is for everything. I’m angry I am in this situation. I am angry I’m not good enough for proper employment. I’m angry my children are living through this. I am angry at my husband. I’m angry at Christians who preach against me, ignoring the words of Christ. I’m angry at politicians who vote against people like me. I’m angry at a society that views me as a leech, as a welfare queen, as someone who deserves the be on the bottom of humanity’s shoe.

There is jealousy. I’ve never been a materialistic person and neither has my husband. We have never felt the need to keep up with the joneses – no desire for brand name clothing, big screen TVs, or the latest electronic gadget. We’ve never had cable. I liked to shop when I genuinely needed things, but I wouldn’t overspend or buy things I couldn’t afford. I never owned a credit card. Fashion magazines were fun and I’d laugh at the implication that a woman should spend $200.00 on a pair of jeans. Now, I’m jealous at anyone who can afford to buy $15.00 jeans on sale at Old Navy. Friends post their “OMG! Kohl’s haul!” on Facebook, posting pictures of their new boots, sweaters, jeans, yoga pants, etc. Where I would once say, “oh, those boots are cute,” I am now filled with plain old bitter envy. I wish I could just look at my boots, the ones with the rip in them, decide it was time to buy new ones, and walk out the door to buy a new pair. I wish I could say, “Gee, I sure am sick of wearing the same two shirts day in and day out,” and go to a store a buy a few new shirts that actually fit. I can’t. I have clothes that are finally showing their age and their wear. Threads are falling lose, seams opening, little holes throughout fabric, buttons are disappearing. An acquaintance said to me recently, “You actually look like a poor person.” Gee, thanks. I didn’t know there is a certain look for poor people… My husband spent a few months with holes in his work pants. I sewed them up as best I could, but eventually the fabric would be worn down so much that there wasn’t much to sew. He took to wearing black shorts under his pants (also black) so the holes wouldn’t be a noticeable. Thankfully, he received a couple of new pairs for Christmas. He also spent months walking with holes in his shoes. His sneakers literally fell off his feet one day and he was left with boots that were no longer waterproof and had a hole or two. He’d walk to and from work in rain and snow in those boots. Forget socks. He doesn’t own a pair without holes. We were blessed by a couple of friends who chipped in to buy him and new pair of sturdy, waterproof work boots.

Jealousy isn’t limited to clothing. I’ve been jealous that friends can do wild and crazy things like buy a full tank of gas, get new brakes for their cars, buy a pack of toilet paper, eat. Food is a big one. In this age of social media, one can guarantee that at least 3 ultra-filtered Instagram photos of a friend’s lunch will scroll on by on their computer screen each day. Back in the day, I would just note that so-and-so had a bagel for lunch and I’d go on with my day. Now, I just sit there and wish it was me. I wish I had a plate full of good food to obnoxiously photograph, but I don’t. It’s the food that really drove the issue home for me not too long ago. I had taken my children to Ikea. We weren’t there to buy anything. It was damn cold, we were tired of being cooped up in the house, and there weren’t many options for a free place to play. Ikea has a play zone for my older child. My daughter is more than happy to walk around the store, sitting on sofas and chairs. I love Ikea because it’s fun to imagine having different furniture and organization. While there, I bought my kids lunch. They had one of their specials going and kiddie meals were free! My kids each had a meal, which included drinks. I didn’t get anything for me. As they ate, I would pick at their plates, stealing a bite here and there. I looked at everyone eating around me and that’s when the tears, which I fought very hard to hold back, started to flow. I wanted so badly to be able to order something for myself. I was starving and the little bites of steamed veggies and mac ‘n’ cheese weren’t very filling. I hadn’t eaten yet that day and found myself just staring at the plates of strangers, wishing I was free to get myself something to eat. I found myself glaring at people through my tears as they took plates and bowls half full of food to the trash center – what a waste of food! Never before had I been tempted to say, “hey, I’ll take that,” than I was on that day. My son noticed me wiping tears and asked what was wrong. I lied and told him I took a bite of his sister’s squash and it must have had some sort of spice on it and I was reacting to that. He believed me for a moment, taking a last bite of his mashed potatoes before pushing the plate over to me and telling me he was full. More tears to fight off.

That brings me to the hunger. The hunger is extraordinary. There is a constant gnawing in your stomach, an empty feeling that has taken up permanent residence. Even as you’re eating a meal, you feel the hunger. It never goes away because you don’t know when you’re going to eat again. You don’t know if your next meal will be something proper or if it’ll be half a fun-sized bag of M&M’s that you hoarded from your kids’ Halloween haul or nothing at all. It’s an ever-present gastric uncertainty. As food stamp benefits continue to be cut and food pantries struggle to feed communities, that uncertainty will just continue. I hate to think of my children feeling the same way. They get first dibs on all food that comes through this house. There are many days when my kids get their three meals and I get half of one and my husband….well, I never see him because he is working all the time, but he barely eats, too. This is obviously unhealthy. Our health has tanked over the last year. I’ve been told I constantly look tired. My eyes are more sunken, devoid of light. My skin is dry, blemished, and overall just blah. My hair is brittle and I lose a lot of it on a daily basis. I’m constantly weak. My husband is a very strong man, but he has lost an alarming amount of muscle and strength in the past year. The two of us are constantly exhausted. Part of that is the hunger, part of it is emotional.

The emotions certainly take their toll. Hopelessness is unbearable. I was once someone that my friends would always look to for a positive thought and encouraging words. I always managed to see the good in every situation. I try my best to hold onto that, but it’s been slipping away quickly. Fear is constant. You’re always afraid of what’s next. I’m afraid of opening my bills to find new late fees. I’m afraid of losing utilities. I’m afraid of being evicted because we can’t afford our rent. You want to think positive, but the idea of “what’s next” is always looming. Things that might seem minor to one person can spell disaster for a family in poverty. Last week, my husband told me my tail light was out. This is typically not a big deal for many people. To us, it’s terrifying. We don’t have the money for a new tail light. But, it’s illegal here to have one out. Our cops here are very good at pulling you over for broken lights, outdated stickers, etc. Obviously, it’s the law to keep your car in check. We know this. I’ve always been great at keeping my car well-maintained. My inspections were always done on time, lights would be replaced immediately, oil is always changed, I never drove on gas fumes at the needle hovered on E. It’s all different now. Small things are big things. Monumental things. The idea of needing a tail light, an inspection, or a new tire due to the 100′s of pot holes created by tons of snow this Winter is enough to send me into a panic. Weather is terrorizing these days. Two of my husbands jobs can be called off due to snow or ice because the trucks can’t get to them, so they tell staff to stay home. We’ve had storm after storm after storm this season. My husband has missed so much work, not by choice, due to snow and ice. We added it up and discovered that he missed enough to pay for nearly two months of rent. Same for me – no doggies to walk in this weather because people are staying home.

Poverty is isolating. Friends eventually fade away because they think you’re ignoring them when you constantly turn down their invites to dinner or events. They take it personal no matter how many times you insist it’s not. Your children’s social lives suffer for the same reason – you can’t afford to send them to many birthday parties or playdates. Trips to zoos, museums, and other fun places with admission fees are extremely limited. People eventually tire of you being unavailable to come out for fun and they stop calling and texting. And maybe I should say those people aren’t friends in the first place, but it doesn’t take the pain away. It doesn’t make me hurt less for my children. Conversely, you have friends who know you’re in poverty and they try to brainstorm, try to help you through it. You say thank you a million times, but it’s not enough. After a while, trying to save you is boring and when they realize they didn’t fix you, they get annoyed. I’ve been called everything by people who were supposed to be my friends. Because I can’t snap my fingers and make things work perfectly and because that fact depresses the fuck out of me, I’ve been called useless, manipulative, worthless, unmotivated. No one wants to hear that you have tried all the options that they suggested and they didn’t work out. No one wants to hear that you know exactly why a suggestion won’t work. They don’t understand why you can’t “just move” or “just declare bankruptcy” or just swing around a pole (note: no one ever suggests that my husband sell his body for cash…but quite a few people have presented it as an option for me). This isn’t to say they are not well-meaning – and they certainly are not under appreciated by me – but they eventually get exasperated when you explain time and time again why certain suggestions don’t work. They want to fix you, fix you now, get you to shut the fuck up about being poor. It’s hard for others to deal with the overwhelming depression and hopelessness that accompanies poverty. It’s hard for them to hear that you don’t want to get up in the morning anymore, that you just want to end it all. So, it’s sometimes easier to be angry at the poor person, to convince yourself that they just don’t want to work for it, and keep your distance from them. Many friendships have been strained by poverty.

However, no one can be as hard on you as you are on yourself. I spend hours per day telling myself how much I suck. If only I had done this or done that. I know our circumstances were beyond our control. I know how hard we try every single say. But, it doesn’t stop me from doubting myself, from putting myself down. It doesn’t stop the shame. I feel like a leech. I’m told by my friendly clergymen, my wonderful politicians, and by people I know and once called friends that I am a burden on society. I’m a taker. If only I worked harder. If only I wanted to stop being poor and getting handouts, then everything would turn around and I would be rich. If only I would pray harder, attend the correct church, and read an ancient book that I have read cover to cover many times in the past. Then God would just bestow His blessings upon me. Or, I should really just consider putting some positive energy out into the Universe. If I meditate and tell the Universe that I want money, money will come and everything will be fixed. The constant shouts from society’s peanut gallery telling me how the poor or worthless and damned help shape my inner dialogue and I begin to agree with them. I am worthless. I deserve the shame I feel.

It’s hard to accept help when your inner dialogue tells you that you are useless. People tell me to be willing to accept help, I’ll be able to pay it forward someday. Without friends and the kindness of strangers, we wouldn’t have had a Christmas for our kids. My car payment would not have been paid for a couple of months, my husband would still have holes in his boots, and my car would still be uninspected and I’d be in deep shit. And we’re still here, still in need.

I sit here now, writing this at my desk that is piled with overdue utility bills and a statement from my landlord telling us they are pursuing legal action against us because our rent is currently 17 days late. I have multiple windows open on my computer – several for job applications for me, several job applications for my husband to look at once he’s home from work, a few for charity searches, another for prayer requests, and another for a site that offers emotional support and solidarity for people like me. The future is more than uncertain and it feels that the ground under me can open at any moment and swallow me whole.

And so I do pray. I do hope. I work hard to get our family out of this hell hole and so does my husband. I am grateful in ways that I cannot fully express for all the help that has come to my family in recent months from both friends and strangers. It reminds us that even though life is pure shit right now, there are bright spots. The good exists. So, we continue to focus on that. I hope to eventually write about how we struggled, survived, and came out on top. Until then, be nice to the poor folk. You can have all the assumptions in the world about how they got there, how the feel, how much they “take,” but you can never really know their true story – humans deserve compassion.

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Jupiter here. The outpouring of support and people wanting to help has been incredible. I started a gofundme page to handle donations for those interested:
Donate to Jenn and her family here
 
For those who have asked about physical donations such as clothing,food,etc…. I am not comfortable  publishing Jenn’s address here publicly.  Bear with me…working on a solution.
I have a PO Box people can send small items and gift cards to, I guess? I couldn’t afford to ship heavy items to her,though. PO Box 905, Trumansburg NY 14886
I’ve talked to Jenn many time throughout the day and 1st of all, she’s immensely grateful. I’ve known Jenn for quite awhile and know that her gratitude is sincere and the generosity will be paid forward to others.
Secondly, her husband applied at Costco (in Pennsylvania). Jenn was wondering if anyone has connection w/ Costco in the northeast and could maybe help a little with this?
You can email me at jupitersinclair[at]gmail[dot]comJenn passed along a “Thank you”. You can read it here.

 

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Update…February 23rd
Hello,again. I just wanted to take a minute to address a couple things here that a very small number of people have concerns about. I’ve already mentioned a bit of this in Jenn’s Thanks and my pre-ramble before it (and please do go read that f you haven’t already!), but traffic seems to still be heavier for this post with not so many visit for the latter.

Ok,first… there wasn’t ever any point where anyone said that cash only donations would be accepted. As stated above, I was trying to figure out the logistics of that ,for one thing. I do have quite a bit of experience collecting and distributing goods that need to get to places they’re needed and I just know that many times it’s impractical. Not only is it pricey to ship a box of canned food but when you have a lot of people reaching in to their closets for things to donate to ONE family, what happens is a major overflow of goods that one family couldn’t possibly use but still has to figure out what to do with.
So, I suppose I would most definitely discourage physical items…but I can’t refuse enthusiastic help. I also know that Jenn would be able to pass along overflow to connections she has in her community, such as Catholic Charities.  As it stands right now, there IS a place to mail items if you really want to do that. (You can find that info in the thank you post).

There was tremendously weird discussion about the issue of PO Box. I have a PO Box. It’s up there. Like I said, people can send me small things I can forward them. As the theme of this blog implies, I’m kinda poor. I can’t afford to forward large boxes of things. I do not suggest anyone put their home  address on the Internet. I’ve learned to be cautious from experience. Why doesn’t Jenn get a PO Box “with all that money raised in gofundme” ? In case you’re unaware of how gofundme works, it takes 2-5 business days for the transfer to a bank account to begin. Not all the money is available at once. It’s transferred in increments. Meaning: the gofundme money is not even in Jenn’s bank account yet. When the first of it does arrive there, there are pressing needs such a dealing with eviction,court fees,broken taillight…
But the really cool thing about money is that you can buy food with it,too.

I know that some people who have never experienced poverty will still not understand a lot of narratives about poverty. Even if you grew up in poverty, you still only have the experience of being a child in poverty, not as an adult trying to keep their head above water for themselves and their kids. So, while that experience is your own, it is not the experience of a parent dealing with poverty, or even of other children who grew up poor. My point is, each person has their individual story to tell. You can learn from them and grow a better understanding & compassion , or you can sit in judgement and condemnation because the narrative doesn’t match the one you made up in your head. S’up to you.

 

259 thoughts on “Jenn’s Words: “Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis. “

  1. So, with Jupiter’s permission I created a Facebook page where people can arrange to send items, that I can deliver to Jenn. It’s under my name, and I put my high school as yeahIwentthere, so you’ll know if it’s the right me. If you can find it and send a friend request, I’ll give an address to send non-monetary items.

    Jenn, you do the same and I’ll arrange a delivery next month.

    I’ll post pics of donated boxes (not showing addresses).

    My organization sometimes supports job training in the Philly area. I can see if one of my contacts is hiring, too.

  2. Jenn and Jupiter
    Thanks so much for writing this, I really feel for Jenn and her family having played by the rules and they are still getting screwed over. I also don’t appreciate the judgemental comments. I hate people who judge. Just stop it. Judging is god’s job. We all are suffering in today’s economy. To the person who complained about foreign aid: The amount our govt spends on weapons and the military DRAWFS anything spent in foreign aid so how about we start there. Also, Americans have been brainwashed into believing that business knows how to run this country. This is why we are in the state we are in. The middle class is disappearing at an alarming rate. I used to be middle class, but no more. While I am not in the dire straits that Jenn and others are yet, it’s probably only a matter of time. The politicians and business leaders of this country will not be happy until we are all living in cardboard boxes and dumpster diving for food. So to all you people who are judging Jenn and her situation. You are next, you just don’t know it yet.
    ANd remember. ANy country is only two meals away from a revolution. ANd judge not lest ye be judged.
    I live in suburban philadelphia and I am trying to hang on as best I can. I wish I could donate some cash, but im overdrawn at the bank.

  3. Jenn is not the only mother who has snapped at a child asking for seconds because there was no more food. You’re not mad at your kid at that moment, you’re mad at the world that created the moment. No one is perfect and almost every parent on earth has snapped at a kid for something that wasn’t their fault at least once. I snapped at one of my kids asking for seconds once when there was no more food. I will probably never forgive myself for it but it happened and you can’t make it unhappen and lying about it would be stupid because then it just isolates it as some weird incident that only happened to one mom when community and understanding are what we all need to feel not-isolated and not-alone and thus be less likely to be in a position to be so mentally stressed and tired that we verbally lash out when we are asked for more than we can provide in the moment.

  4. I was touched by the description of poverty in America that so many have turned a blind eye to. The reference to “I’m angry at Christians who preach against me, ignoring the words of Christ.” particularly resonated with me as I have noticed the collusion of evangelical Christians with right wing politics that have created such inequality in society and have so cruelly judged those who struggle financially. Poverty should not just be swept under the rug in hopes that no one will notice.

  5. I keep coming back here to read more between writing papers for school. I love each and every one of you that really ‘gets’ this post. What Jenn has done here with the help of Jupiter is to give all of us who are struggling just like this a voice. How many posts did I read that started “I wept when I read this because it felt like you were telling my story”…too many, that’s for sure. I have a friend who is constantly reminding people to ask for help because it is such a hard thing to do when you are in such a horrible situation. Yes, you want (need) help, but it is so painful, embarrassing and demoralizing to have to ask friends, family, and strangers for help. This is a huge problem, and truly, the least we can do is offer a sympathetic ear if we can’t afford anything with monetary value.

    I hope that the people who we have in office now see the light or get voted out so we can get some REAL help for this economy. We need to build up the middle class again. We need to get rid of the Reagan and Bush era tax cuts for the rich and have them pay their fair share. Our country is doomed if lawmakers allow this to continue.Our children aren’t getting the educations they need to be future leaders. They aren’t going to have the opportunity to move out and go to college. There will be no good jobs for them. We will end up being a shadow of the great country we once were. Look around, we already are. Let’s please all remember that we can make a difference in everyone’s life if we refuse to elect people who are insistent on keeping us down. Go to the polls hungry…hungry for change and a better life for everyone. Keep up the fight, everyone. We can do this, but only if we work together!

    • I started to notice that a few people were sharing this on politician’s facebook pages. I have no idea if that helps anything at all but I do know that the situation right now IS a matter of political will. Elected officials are failing the people.

      Thank you for your support <3

  6. This touched me so deeply. I don’t have children, so I can’t begin to know Jenn’s pain in that area, but I know the pain of being poor. I know the pain of losing friends, of losing ones faith, and losing hope. Poverty is physically and mentally debilitating. It is cruel enough all on its own, but then one also deals with the judgement of friends, and society at large.
    I want to let Jenn know that I care, that I do not judge, that if she cannot hope right now, I will hope for her. I so wish I could do more, offer gift cards, or something of significance. As it is, I can only offer my concern and caring, and hope that it helps in some small way.

  7. There is a phenomenon going on that makes it appear that people don’t want to work. A friend has submitted hundreds of applications with no results. For whatever reason she keeps getting shut out! Recently, she was offerred a position as a substitute teacher in a school. She called me crying after she went to get the finger print report and was told it NOW COSTS $54!! Then to add insult to injury, she reminded the person that the last one is still good for a few more years. He knew that already as he was looking at the report in the computer, BUT the new regulations say that you still have to get a new one. DID SHE BURN HER FINGER TIPS OFF? No!! She also wanted to renew her teacher certification, BUT… the cost was changed by the governor fron $50 to $2OO!! Every direction she turned, she was BLOCKED. I do not believe this is by chance. I do believe that the powers to be have calculated the condition in order to create a people so desperate that they will accept anything, just to survive. Even though I am on a fixed income, I sent the money to my friend to try to create an opening through that blocked path she was facing. I’ll worry later about where that money will come from next month. HELP YOUR FRIENDS my people. Praying for a breakthrough for you and your family! Thanks for sharing on this BLOG.

    • To further iterate on a problem you expounded upon in very specific circumstances I’m going to expound further on more general circumstances. In this employer’s market there is a general belief in excluding as many people as possible from new jobs before reading their application.

      As an example alot of people applying for jobs don’t realize their resume may never get to the hr rep’s face why? They use specific software that goes through application that excludes people even if they are a fit for the job. Common mistakes include if you labeled your work experience as something else, not putting your high school in your education (I didn’t realize that I was doing this wrong until about a month or 2 into my job searching), not formatting your work experience correctly, don’t send your resume as a pdf (I also initially sent my resume as a pdf to places because it gave me greater control of presentation than a word document). If it doesn’t detect the keywords its looking for it scraps your application, if you apply “too many times” for jobs they feel you are unqualified for. They internally blacklist your application so no matter how many times you send for positions in the future it will automatically discard it due to it being on that list. Hiring companies know about these issues (even the stuck that works against them) and don’t try to change it simply because to them it saves them time as long as they get one person that is all they care about. A
      More Information: http://www.cio.com/article/701272/5_Insider_Secrets_for_Beating_Applicant_Tracking_Systems?page=2&taxonomyId=3123

      One important story I read was where an engineer who had worked along time in the industry if I remember correctly it was something like 15 to 20 years and he didn’t put his high school because like me he figured if you have college education on your resume that its natural to believe that you have a diploma or ged. He didn’t get any jobs and his old company I guess got more profits than they expected so they hired him back. I’m assuming from there he got told of his mistake. For those unaware engineers is a highly sought after field that is not to populated.

      Another problem is alot of companies outsource their background checks. The problem with that is they don’t necessarily use your ssn so some companies will simply go by your name. If you’re unlucky enough to get a bad worker or someone on a bad day you’ll be put down as being part of a crime that you didn’t do. This is evidenced in this story:

      http://www.today.com/money/shoddy-background-check-could-cost-you-job-714393

      There is alot of pitfalls for the unaware job seeker so they don’t exactly make it easy to cover all your bases. I also agree with you that I think corporations would love to take social safety nets away, as well as minimum wage so that the american people will be happy with whatever compensation.The problem is we need people to stop being apathetic and voting for either side unless they support measures to make the situation better for the lower and middle classes.

    • This is the same reason they call the millennials “entitled” as they live at home til they are 40 because they are absolutely broke. It’s to prop up the myth and hide the fact that the job market is crashing along with the economy. I used to be a teacher years ago, in my state they wanted 150 bucks for the teaching license, my money hungry alma mater wanted 3 dollar a pop to send “credentials”, in 1990. No big deal if you are applying for a few jobs, but 100? Thats 300 bucks. The powers that be have put so many weeding out processes in front of jobs with expensive licenses etc, I suppose it is way to keep everything for themselves. Glad you are helping your friend.

  8. Poverty is the worse. I like how you talked about how it can strain friendships, but it also can strain or end family relationships too especially if you never get ahead or lose your health.

    http://ramennoodlenation.blogspot.com/2014/02/forever-bum-to-your-own-family.html

    I laugh at the Instagram stuff too–recipes you know would cost 50 bucks just to get the ingredients of for a single meal. All those organization things and the rest, all of it costs money to get the supplies.

    The stigma of poverty in America I believe hurts people far more then the going without. We have too many who are entering “throw-away” status in this society where if you “don’t belong” out the door you go. It’s a serious problem.

    http://ramennoodlenation.blogspot.com/2014/01/shining-mr-lincolns-shoes-letter-to.html

  9. Jenn
    I just wish there was some way that we could get our politicians to hear your elegant words but as long as they are focused on the money they are getting from special interests it will never happen. People need to VOTE. We have to start making our government do the right thing and that is the only way.

    Anyway, that’s not going to help you and your children so I do have a suggestion.
    Instead of IKEA and seeing all the things you “can’t” have, please come to a public library and let us loan you for free so many wonderful things. That is what we are here for and is our calling. We would be honored to have you and your children come even if it’s just to get warmer than 60 degrees. We have wonderful programming for children, all kinds of books and audio and computers and classes. I could go on. Please come and take home things to enrich your life that you don’t have to pay for. I’m in Texas so I hope you can find someplace convenient in your area. God Bless you.

  10. Poverty does not show someone is worthless, prosperity does not show someone is worthwhile. Indeed, one’s material success is due far more to one’s economy’s success than to one’s personal attributes. Now you can become very comfortable as a sales person, a programmer, a college dean, etc, but not too long you could not.

    While personal attributes should determine how high one’s income can go, they should not set how low one’s income can go. Everyone should receive at least a share of society’s surplus, of the worth of Earth. On that income floor, people can build themselves up into higher income earners.

    But as long as the economy keeps automatically generating a surplus, nobody should ever suffer materially. Everyone deserves a Citizen’s Dividend. It’s happening at progress.org.

  11. I’ve had no offers to send “stuff” on my facebook page. Either people are sending items to Jupiter’s P.O. Box, or they are finding it easier to donate money. I’m glad Jenn’s family has received help and hope it will have longterm effects. I’ll give the Facebook page another week then shut it down. Blessings to all.

    • Nancy, I just sent you a message on the facebook page. I wanted to make sure it was the right page. thanks, Brenda Snell

      • Brenda! I believe I received a package from you via Nancy. I have no contact information and wanted to be able to send a thank you. I’m not even sure if you’ll get a follow up comment to this post.

  12. […] be clear. I’m not proud of this. I’m not happy about this. I remember when Jenn posted her story on the Poor as Folk blog she mentioned snapping at her kid for asking for seconds. She got bagged on so hard in the comments […]

  13. I cant belive this. My whole family .. Even myself make lese than american minimal pay. And we get by pretty well. Thing is to cut all expenses.
    We live in small house. -no rent
    We cut own wood -no heating bill
    Have own well- no water bill
    Feed chickens leftovers from restaurant provides restaurant owner some eggs, meanwhile plenty of eggs for us.
    Although food and gas is more expensive than in USA , median income is bellow USA minimal wage.
    There is something weird.

    • Good for you for managing to live within a low income budget & finding the means to do so!
      If you’re living in an apartment complex in a city, it’s not really feasible to do a lot of these DIY/self-sufficiency things,unfortunately. No wood stoves allowed. No chickens or garden space (and in Jenn’s case, tenants are fined for having more than 2 potted plants outside their door)
      No wells…only municipal water. In urban settings (where Jenn lives), food and cost of living is higher and there’s this thing known as The Poverty Trap that keeps people glued to situations they can’t escape from because they lack resources to move away from it.

      • And our potted plants cannot be food – they are strict about that as they believe it will “attract wildlife.”

    • A) Most people don’t have connections to live rent free. Rent free is a fantasy for most people.
      B) Animal care while not the most expensive costs some too.
      C) I do not want to go to a restaurant that gets chicken eggs this way. Please let us know the restaurant so I never go to it.
      D) Cutting expenses? Many people don’t have that luxury.
      E) You clearly don’t understand poverty. You’ve been fed a myth and believed it.
      F) While clearly below in amount terms there is more inequality in America than the EU (it gets worse if we start to look at before the recession). As an example based on hunger we only beat 2 other European countries.
      In Conclusion stop reading myths and do your research.

      • All true. Yep.
        On cutting expenses, some would call how we live “Extreme Frugality” and we still struggle. “No rent” is unlikely to ever be an option in my life. I don’t know how that even happens unless someone gives you a piece of land and you build a cob house or other low cost housing on it. We’ve been approved for a special program here that helps low income families buy houses (really beneficial here as rent can be twice as much as what a mortgage would be). BUT we still have to have the downpayment , which we struggle to save because we are living paycheck to paycheck AND there is obviously a limit to the cost of house we can buy… and everything in our price range is off the bus route, so now we will also need a car. So, getting out of our situation even with assistance is still hard and expensive, even with ALL the cost cutting measures and being resourcefulness.

    • Good for you! I’m happy to hear you are able to get by with cut expenses and you can also live off the grid a little bit.

      Unfortunately, we do not have a fireplace. No cutting wood. We do not have a well. We are in an apartment, so there’s no hope for chickens (I hope to have chickens someday!!).

      What works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for another.

    • Hi longcz! You mention that “food and gas is more expensive than in USA” so I am very curious as to where you are living, that you can live rent-free, keep chickens, have a well, and cut your own firewood. For many people in the US and UK, the life you’re living sounds like a dream come true. Please share your country/region, and if you can, tell us if there is a way for expats to live there. Thanks!

  14. To everyone here struggling with poverty…keep putting one foot in front of the other. Take advantage of any educational or training opportunities that come your way. I spent many years raising my kids in abject poverty and it was truly exhausting. But my persistence paid off and eventually I found employment that became a career over the years. Many small steps make a mile. You are teaching your children valuable lessons in survival and you will eventually find your way back into the light. I believe in you!!

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