Things I’ve Learned While Working Within Poverty Programs

  1. Outsiders act like I am working with slime covered hardened criminals. I hear a lot of “Someone has to do it, I am glad it isn’t me” and “How do you stomach THOSE people?”

  2. The closer you are to living at or below the poverty line – the more you hate poor people in general. There must be some kind of delusion accompanying “near impoverishment” – a kind of beer-googles that distort reality

  3. People distort reality.

  4. Programs, Charities, Government Assistance all have good intentions. Their services, however, are designed for an idea of a situation someone may be in – or the ideal temperament of a client. In reality, our clients never fit the mold and some interpretation and persuasion are mandatory. THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL

  5. Using Meth twice a month is probably an addiction and not casual use.

  6. Take the bus that comes before the bus you need.

  7. Public Transportation routes are not what they should be.

  8. More people are in domestically violent relationships than I expected.

  9. 1 of every 4 children you see only eats because of the food stamps program.

  10. Don’t be a special snowflake.

  11. Case Managers are not Life Coaches or mental health therapists.

  12. You can never have enough bandages at your desk , so splurge and get the cute ones. Paperwork = paper cuts.

  13. You will start to feel guilty for having a couch no one sleeps on or an extra room you don’t bring a homeless person home to live in.

  14. Some days you will have a heart ache that even Diet Coke can’t touch. (What do you mean – of course Diet Coke is medicine!)

  15. Keep a sense of humor and joy at all times.

  16. Babies die. Parents leave. Children starve. You are not GOD can also cannot hypnotize people into behaving in ways that keep everyone in their care alive and well.

  17. Solid Mental Health is not a requirement to hold down a job. (It is a detriment to holding down THIS job)

  18. Don’t help more than you are supposed to , it cripples people . You really can kill them from being kind to them. Someday you won’t be there to make calls, plan meals or budgets and if they were not forced to learn when you were there to teach it they will fail and everything will fall apart.

  19. Homelessness is hard.

  20. Poor people don’t vote as often as they should

  21. Smart Phones are not luxuries, they are necessities.

  22. There is enough housing to shelter every homeless person in the United States, but there is no way to get everyone housed without shortchanging the folks hoping empty properties. Or, maybe there is and I have not figured it out yet.

  23. Compassion is not an endless commodity

  24. People do better when you treat them like you are happy to see them.

  25. High school Diplomas are as necessary as food, water and shelter

  26. We have plenty of workers but not enough jobs for their skillset.

  27. You can tell how poor a neighborhood is by the number of AutoZone stores in the area.

  28. It sounds like a good idea to police the food items and clothing items available for purchase with public assistance dollars, but in reality you are just being bitchy about the whole thing.

  29. No one makes a living off of welfare fraud.

  30. Except farmers. They can make millions from being paid to not grow crops (and then grow them anyway and sell them). The Department of Agriculture is in charge of SNAP and Food subsidies and millionaire farmers make bank off of Farm Bills and our Public Officials are too chicken to change that.

  31. Walmart benefits more from the Public Assistance Programs than all of their employees on public assistance combines.

  32. Old folks on fixed incomes need food stamps

  33. You can move to this country and never work and become a citizen and receive more in social security than a teacher who has worked for 30 years in the public schools.

  34. You can receive a pension from Russia and still collect Social Security

  35. Supervisors, Administrators and overseers of public funding will visit each other and never once drop in at my desk to see what the job is really like.

  36. Addicts return to skid row after rehab because it is their home = the same way you go home after you get out of the hospital

  37. I like talking to strangers

  38. More coordination is needed between public departments and charitable organizations , also between public departments and charities. Everyone services the same populations but the coordination of services is . . well, is not anything at all worth bragging about.

  39. Some programs have the goal to end poverty. Some have the goal to count the number of poor people services and say “Look at me!”

  40. Even rich neighborhoods have poor people

  41. The average person receiving public help is a child

  42. Ronald Reagan made up the “Welfare Queen in Chicago” story. No one can live on welfare.

  43. The Poverty Line is far above the cut off limit for cash aid, and further still from the amount a single person on minimum wage can earn.

  44. The most interesting characters are not the clients, they are the case workers. Every. Single. Time.

  45. there are 3 ways to get enough money to leave cash assistance. 1. Inherit 2. Steal 3. Earn – and when you don’t have a skill set or a mentor and no one in your family leaves you a fortune, stealing sometimes is your best option until you are taught better. This is why it is a shame we invest in prisons and not in education as a priority.

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