Blog Action Day: The dark tunnel of poverty

Financial challenges negatively impact every aspect of a person’s life. Financial stress stifles careers, ruins relationships, and erodes emotional and physical health. Unfortunately, our counselors have become used to hearing words such as disaster, hopeless, and frustrated; they empathize with each and every client’s situation. In addition to outlining a plan of action, our counselors offer our clients hope—they turn on the light at the end of the tunnel.

But what if there was no light? For many people living below the poverty line, the tunnel remains dark. As part of Blog Action Day, I would like to join the PF Bloggers who are illuminating the issue of poverty by publishing some excerpts of an open letter written by the Tracey Stewart, President of the Board of Directors for The Delores Project. The Delores Project is an overnight shelter providing services to homeless women in Denver.

“Relative poverty exists whenever people do not have enough income to provide what most of us would consider a minimum standard of living. Poverty also means missing out on the social aspects of your community, as well as opportunities to develop your skills and talents. For an adult, maintaining social contacts is essential to good emotional and mental health. For women, the isolation that accompanies poverty is the intersection of cultural, material and institutional processes that can exclude them from everyday life (Reid, Ponic, 2004). Over time, the effects of chronic poverty tend to snowball. Increased debt and the loss of social networks can lead to another drastic outcome—homelessness.”

Ms. Stewart’s letter reminds me of another thing that our counselors generously offer our clients: perspective. As we enter the seasons of thanks and giving, remember that “a just society is not achieved when individuals pursue what is best for themselves, but when the community works together for the common good.”

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.