I need to start off here with my gratitude to all of you who read Jenn’s Words and were motivated to share your own struggles, past and present. People who know me & this blogging endeavor of mine know that I have a lot of faith in people’s personal stories. I believe that every single time someone shares their own individual experiences in their own words, it helps to create a valuable narrative for what poverty & hunger truly look like. We do not need rich men taking food stamp challenges to explain how hard it is to be poor. We need to listen to the words of actual poor people and respect that those experiences are real. The true experiences are always more powerful  than those that were created in a fabricated bubble without unstable variables.
 
I invite everyone to go back to the Jenn’s Words post. Scroll down, past her words. Read the comments.This is what my inbox looks like pretty much every single day. No matter how many times people pour out their poverty problems, I am always emotional, a mix of anger & sadness. I connect with some of these people for more than the length of an email.When they disappear off my radar ,I worry. It’s been months since I’ve heard from the young disabled woman with a newborn who just became homeless. The man who got out of prison who contacted me after I posted an article about prison gardens to tell me that he was an inmate in one of those prisons and now that he’s out, he can’t afford to feed himself or his family…it’s been about 4 months since he’s let me know he’s ok. I don’t know these people personally but they matter to me. They all matter.
 
The other day, someone thanked me for being a “catalyst for change” . I’m not a catalyst. Catalysts are unaffected by the action they cause. There is no way I could be unaffected .
 
I’ve known Jenn for years. She has a blog of her own. Not only do I consider her to be a friend, I know that she’s an incredibly talented writer. She has a great gift for articulating a point so that her readers really get it and are right there with her in the emotion of it all. So, I knew that whatever she wrote about what she’s going through right now, it would be meaningful. There is no one single story that represents every single person in poverty but I think her words articulated the general sense of what poverty can be like for everyone.To those who felt motivated to help Jenn’s family out with donations of money,gift cards,food,clothing…. I am just so amazed. Taken by surprise  and amazed. I cannot say thank you enough. I was wholly unprepared for that. I’m probably closing the gofundme account soon but for those who were interested in donating actual physical items, contact Nancy Frederick on Facebook (this is an account she set up specifically for this…thank you so much ,Nancy! ) She will be collecting donations and then delivering them to Jenn personally.
 
If it’s impractical to send food outside of your area (it often is, since the shipping can get expensive), please donate to your local food bank. Food banks nationwide are struggling. Your donation will be GREATLY appreciated. To find a food bank near you, check out the Food Bank Directory.

Also, if you have clothing and don’t know where to donate them locally, you could check out Matching Outfit’s needed list: HERE

Some other ideas of places to donate to are local teen pregnancy/parenting groups or domestic violence shelters. I moderate my local Freecycle board and I know that a lot of social worker’s use both Freecycle and Craigslist to help their clients find clothing and goods. Those would be good places to check,too.
 
Ok, now I’ll stop talking and pass along Jenn’s “thank you”. When you check out the comments in Jenn’s Words, you’ll see that Jenn has taken the time to respond to many people there,too.
image via deargodproject
image via deargodproject
I have been overwhelmed with gratitude at the response to my story. The reaction to my story, the shared generosity toward my family, and the compassion have rendered me speechless. Now, ask anyone who knows me – a speechless Jenn is incredibly rare and it takes a lot to get me to that point. I could never have imagined that my story would go so far and that the response to it would be so beautiful. 

I have an incredibly difficult time admitting that I need help. I’ve always been the one to fix things, to help people, and it’s hard for me to be in the position of the one in need. This entire experience in my life has been humbling. I’ve learned to accept help. I’ve learned to allow myself to be vulnerable. I’ve learned to keep speaking up, even when I am exposing a part of me that some view as shameful. 

My family has received such a tremendous blessing from all of you. Everything – the words of support and encouragement, prayers, solidarity, love, advice to donations of time, helpful resources, and money – means more to my family than I can adequately express with words. For quite a while now, I have felt like I’ve been near drowning, getting pushed down whenever I come up for air. You all have allowed me to breathe. Today, I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I have hope. I have joy. There is peace in me and in my family. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

You have all shown me that I am not alone and that I’m not worthless. The kindness and compassion directed at my family has brightened my life and given me so much reason to keeping hoping and moving forward. This is something I want everyone to feel – that people ARE good. This world IS good. We’re not as lost and crappy as the media wants us to believe. When people work together and strive to understand one another, good things will happen. Even when things seem so bleak, we aren’t alone. 

Again, from the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you. You have all made a gigantic positive impact in my life, the lives of my children and my husband. From friends of mine to complete strangers – you are all in my heart and surrounded by my endless gratitude. I wish I was better able to convey it….there just aren’t enough words to explain how thankful I am. You have my word that I will pay this forward. I am so inspired by all of your words, love, and generosity. 
I want to extend thanks to my dear friend, Jupiter, who created the Poor As Folk blog. I have known her for a while and she has been an unwavering advocate for the poor and has encouraged me so much. Thank you, Jupiter, for encouraging me to share my story and for giving me a platform to share it. You have always been a source of inspiration for me and I love you dearly.
Thank you. Much love to you all.
Jenn
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