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.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.