Poverty Lessons

“I am sick and tired of all the people in the United States that live off the government.  They are lazy and just want a free hand-out.  Why can’t they just get a job and work like the rest of us ?”

Some of the volunteers and administrators of a community outreach center where I volunteer recently attended an inservice program called BRIDGES out of POVERTY, created by Philip E DeVol, Ruby K. Payne, and Terie Dreussi Smith.   The research and studies they have completed  does not support that quote.

During the inservice, We spent a significant amount of time comparing the lives and beliefs of those who live in poverty and those of us who live within the Middle Class.  What I learned in this presentation has opened my eyes to the plight of those in poverty and especially those who live  with generational poverty.

Did you know that there are thousands of ways into poverty, but according to the authors of this program, there are basically only 4 ways out?

The four ways out of poverty are things we “middle classers”  take for granted.  Think about your life for a moment.  When things go wrong or start a downward slide, most of us have (1) key relationships.  We have a support group.  It may be family, friends, coworkers, neighbors; but we  have a lot of people who will help us out.  (2) Most of us have always had a vision; a goal.  How old were you when someone first asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  From an early age that we have been taught that we will have a job, a career, perhaps further our education.  We have goals.  (3) Most of us have a skill or a talent that we can use to achieve our goal.  Our parents helped cultivate these talents, helped us discover what we were good at, and we eventually found the pathway to achievement that used that skill or talent.   (4) We want to be successful.  If  for some reason, we fall onto hard times and find ourselves living in poverty, we have the motivation and desire to get out.  It is too painful to stay.

Those who live in generational poverty lack key relationships.  Relationships are important to those in poverty, but the relationships that they cultivate are not those that can help them escape from poverty.  The relationships that they have can only help them with short-term assistance.   A ride when the car breaks down, a few dollars for food or medicine when the kids get sick, food stamps, a place to stay for a few nights.  Individuals from generational poverty may not have a long-term goal.  Their goals are much simpler;  food, shelter, survival.   Talent?  Those who live in poverty certainly have talents; the difference being those talents were not nurtured or developed.  Their families were too busy just surviving and trying to meet their basic needs.  Motivation to escape poverty is often lacking.   For many, it does not seem within the realm of possibility.   There are too many hurdles to jump over and they cannot  picture their lives any differently than it has always been.

There was so much more to this presentation.  It is a fascinating topic, and a huge problem for our country and our world.

For more information visit   http://www.bridgesoutofpoverty.com/Community/

To become a Blogger for Peace, visit this wordpress blog




About Life in the 50's and beyond...

Welcome to Life in the 50's and 60's and beyond .... where I write about my childhood memories, music of the 60's and about life in the country. I am a mother, grandmother, farmer's wife, business owner, and retired teacher.
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18 Responses to Poverty Lessons

  1. “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” Ella Fitzgerald

    So true, those who have never experienced poverty don’t understand. On the other hand, it is important to do what you can to help yourself and sometimes Tough Love is required. Dianne


  2. Pingback: Do 15 New Things in 30 Days | Cheri Speak

  3. Great topic for discussion and learning…We were just talking about these issues tonight between neighbors…
    and I would say we all came from different backgrounds…
    It’s a starting pouint to just let people know you are aware and care…and learn what other’s thoughts are on the subject…
    Hopefully some saloutions will come… great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LB says:

    Delineating the 4 Ways Out of Poverty was a powerful way to help “middle classers” understand generational poverty. Excellent post – thank you!


  5. I worked in mental health for 8 years and worked frequently with homeless clients. When I first began in my work, I would catch myself wondering (and possibly slightly judging) these people for not “getting their lives together”. It was only a few weeks into my career that I began to see they had no one – no family, friends, support – nothing. They had no goals because they had no one to support and encourage them. It made me appreciate my job so much more because I became that support person and helped them get off the streets. Thanks for sharing this eye-opening information with everyone!


  6. Wise and thoughtful words on a situation so many of us don’t know a thing about. How can anyone who has always had security and support and a livelihood start to understand the despair, boredom and emptiness of true poverty? The gap between the haves and have nots is widening in this country (Australia) . The Prime Minister who is trying to do something positive by making education more accessible and introducing comprhensive disabled insurance is likely to be voted out at the September election. Cold, hard and corporate are calling the tune here. Sad.


  7. Kathy says:

    I really truly enjoyed reading this blog post. Always wanting to open these eyes a little wider and better see the truth, hopefully keeping this heart compassionate. May we all be less harsh in our judgments…


  8. Caddo-Jael says:

    I was a little worried when I read the “lead in”–but it turned out alright. I battled shame for failing at employment due to my mental health issues, and surviving on welfare–and currently soc sec disability. I was brought up in the middle class, have a brain, education and talent–but if something is “broken” inside you which makes maintaining a job difficult, and the same brokenness negatively impacts relationships (family, friends), the options are limited. I thank God everyday for the government’s help–otherwise I’d have been on the streets, probably dead by now. Surely, I’m on the poverty line–but so grateful for all I have which makes me feel rich in spirit. God bless you, Ruth–love, sis Caddo


    • There are as many compelling stories about receiving assistance as there are people. Shame and embarrassment should never be part of this picture but I understand how it is. I am sorry you have felt this because you are obviously a beautiful person inside and out.
      We are what we are and most of us do the best we can with what we have. God Bless YOU! right back. ♥


  9. Maxi says:

    It’s a sad situation. There are many who “use” the system, I know a few. Then there are those, like a close family member, who truly need help and gets turned away.
    blessings ~ maxi


  10. I love that you are dispelling this theory–and explaining the whys


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