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Poverty is just one subject I hope that my children can speak on.
Poverty is just one subject I hope that my children can speak on.
Tiara Speaks at Bennett College

Recently, I have had the opportunity to visit an agency with a friend of mine. She was behind on her utility bill. She had been unemployed for a while but had gone on numerous interviews; having been turned down for many. It was a last resort that she was coming to this agency for help. The lady at the desk was on the phone when she arrived but she waited patiently with hands folded in front of her. The lady, although on hold, did not even look at her never mind acknowledge that she was present, for what seemed like a good five minutes. At which time, she learned that she was in the wrong building (the administration building) to get help with her utility bill. She thanked her and she walked to the residential building, where she had to be buzzed in after she expressed the reason for her visit. There was a table in the hallway, at which an older lady sat. She informed her of what papers she would need before she could even be let into the door. She was told that she would need a physical copy of her lease and a rent receipt. She would be allowed maybe to have one document faxed from rental agency but since it would be two documents that would be needed; she would have to go and retrieve it and bring it back. It was approximately 10:30 am and when she asked she discovered that they would not be taking anyone else after 11:00 am. Even driving, she knew there was no way she could obtain copy of lease, especially if she would have to obtain copy from rental agency and be back by that time. She reached for the fax number that the lady had written down for her (upon request) when she quickly took the paper away saying that it was not for her. I guess since she would not be using the fax at that very moment, she would not have the privilege of keeping the fax number. She thanked the lady at the table. “Have a blessed day”, she uttered before leaving. She had to stop at the door because there was someone waiting at the door to be buzzed in but she was told to wait until that person at the other side of the door would leave.

On another occasion, (a different agency), I met a lady who was fortunate to have been hired for a job after a long unemployment period. She informed the worker that today was to be her first day and she had documentation to prove it. She did not want to be late for training because she knew that she would lose her job before she could even begin. That day the caseworker was training someone, quite thoroughly I might add. Even after politely being informed by the trainee that the lady could not be late for her first day at work for her new job, the caseworker unapologetically continued to train and at a most slow and steady pace. Upon learning of this, the caseworker informed her that she could come back another day. The young lady knew that this would not be possible because by tomorrow her electricity would have been turned off. By the way, these agencies only allow these people to be seen on the day there utilities will be shut off or the day before. The young lady kept her cool and thankfully received services to prevent her electricity from being shut off being assured that she would not have to remain for the call to the utility company. I was certain that wherever she would be working, having only ten minutes to arrive, there was no way that she would be on time.

I went home and I began to think about these people. These people that are called “poor people”, unfortunate people, people in need. Have they done something so horrible to have to be treated in such a way? I can only imagine that the dilemma of swallowing ones pride enough to have to come to such a place can only be compounded by being treated in such a way. Granted some people may be drug addicts or alcoholics maybe even criminals but even these people, being human, deserve to be treated as such. Perhaps it is the pre - judgments of the receptionist, the lady at the desk and the caseworker that makes it okay to treat that human being in such a way. Perhaps, they believe that this person has caused their own problem and that they would never find themselves in such a dilemma. However, with so much unemployment and the economy slowly returning to a pre-recession state, I would not be so sure.

So you might ask, what one can teach their children about such an experience. Perhaps in not pre – judging the hard work and many cases and overworked lives of must social workers etc.; one cannot forget the job that they do is a difficult and complex one. That being said, I would hope that when my children are faced with difficult situations on a daily basis that they would be able to deal with that situation even though unpleasant at times. Hopefully, they would realize that even Jesus, who had a right to judge others, did not but taught people from all walks of life (even when weary). He being perfect, treated others as "He would want to be treated", so I can only imagine how we, as imperfect beings, would want to do the same. After all, a part from having a magic looking glass, one just never knows when we might be in a similar situation. I hope my children will think about that.