26 Oct What If They Aren’t Poor Enough to Help? [Plus Infographic]
In my family, we’ve been “adopting” families to assist at Christmas for years now. We usually go through some state or local agency who assigns us to a family. When then find out their stories, sizes and needs. It’s just as big of a blessing for our family each year as it is for the families we adopt.
One of the greatest things I’ve learned over this time was from a social worker. After several telephone conversations with her, she let me in on something: Some people who adopt families get upset when they drop off the gifts because they don’t think the family is poor enough to be given assistance. Some of these families live in nice houses and have big screen televisions or their kids request video games for their expensive game consoles. How dare they ask for help, right?
Reserving Judgement : Everything Isn’t Always As It Appears for Those in Need
One of the things that we all need to remember when helping others is we should reserve judgement. Everything isn’t always as it appears–maybe they are losing that house they are living in, or perhaps they bought that big screen and expensive game console before both parents lost their jobs. Or, maybe they have nice stuff because someone at their church wanted them to have nice things?
The thing we need to remember is that we aren’t seeing the complete picture for those families we are helping. A glimpse at their homes or into their lives is just that, one small part of their story.
Understanding ‘Near Poverty’ and How We Need to Help
One of the biggest demographics in need is called “near poverty”–families that fall through the cracks in our system because they work, but are just above the poverty line.
According to a recent CNN article, “more than 30 million Americans are living just above the poverty line. These near poor, often defined as having incomes of up to 1.5 times the poverty threshold, were supporting a family of four on no more than $34,500 last year.”
This group has grown about 10% over the past five years.
These people have jobs, so they often don’t qualify for government assistant, but they are just one step away from catastrophe.
“People just above the poverty line are just one paycheck or health disaster away from poverty. They are still quite fragile,” Katherine Newman, a dean at Johns Hopkins University, told CNN.