I'm starting early because on the subject of poverty I have a lot to say. According to Pam Stenzel the greatest indicator that a person will live in poverty is if they live in a single parent family.
I started out my Adult life as a sold out, on fire Christian. I was very careful who I chose to marry, I thought. But I ended up divorced. With two children.
Financially we have been places that I never thought I would go. I have stood in lines and sat at agencies with hat in hand to my great embarrassment a number of times.
I WAS a giver, I have always been a hard worker, I like being independent. I enjoyed giving to the St. Vincent De Paul Society or helping my group at work sponsor a family at Christmas. It was very humiliating to be called by St. Vincent De Paul and Asked how they might help ME. It was also very humiliating to have a group sponsor me at Christmas one year when the kids were little. I put a few things for me on the list they asked for because they said I should, thinking that I would give them a few choices, a pair of boots for me, some bubble bath(my only get-away), and a few other small items I could think of. Whoever the anonymous group was that sponsored me got every single thing that i put on the list for me and the kids! I cried and cried--they did discreetly deliver things in the evening and hid them on the porch so that I could play Santa Claus.
Now I don't really advocate jumping on the band wagon for toys-for-tots since i have heard that some kids get sponsored by so many groups they sell their extra toys at school. But groups like the Old Newsboys group, buy winter coats, boots and hats for your kids--they are great, you get a voucher and go to the assigned stores, like Sears or Burlington Coat factory and you can get the assigned items with a reasonable price tag, all paid for by their donors. I thank God for these type of programs.
Even more helpful for poor single moms is to be noticed by a friend or family at church, who get to know them and take them shopping for their needs. I say this because most agencies require so much paper work to get help, and it is demeaning and frustrating, you often get sent away to research more paperwork before you get help, you must expend a lot of time to drive around getting forms and certificates for every family member.
However, the personal touch of getting to know a single mom helps her emotionally too. She sees that people care about her needs. She isn't given the standard care package with the requisite 6 boxes of Mac and Cheese and 1 can of peas and 1 can of fruit cocktail.
What if you really need toilet paper? or cleaning supplies for the house, or deodorant? Those are things you can't buy with food stamps. You can't buy garbage pick up or gas with them either.
The times that a friend took me to the store and she could see that everything I bought was a necessity, and then urged me to get a few things for me, were unforgettable. They were healing, when the man that committed his life to me forever, kicked me to the curb like a used Kleenex, it is very healing to have a friend say, "Hey I will always be here for you, lets go out to lunch or a movie, my husband will watch the kids."
Thank you to all those heroes in my life who made it bearable along the way. Thanks to those of you who watched my kids for peanuts while I went back to college. They are now 18 and 21 and they are not on drugs they have not gotten pregnant, or gotten anyone pregnant and they attend church regularly. Thanks most of all to the God who made us and watches over us faithfully.