Poverty next door
Last updated 2/9/2022 at Noon
People all around us every day — people we never think about or see, the gas station attendant, waitress, barista, cashier, fast-food drive-through person, or clerk at the store you are shopping at — may be living below the poverty line.
Sisters’ poverty rate is 12 percent. That means every one out of eight people you see are struggling in Sisters. We need to look out for each other, see our neighbors. You may have a single mom or dad living next door; they look just like you, but their water just got shut off and they are walking their kids to the park to use the bathroom and wash up before the school day begins. Their heat just got shut off so they are wearing three pairs of pajamas. They are embarrassed to go the food bank due to lack, because lack and shame go hand in hand.
They can’t ask for help because of the deep isolation that makes them feel like they’re the only one in the community going through this; after all, everyone has money, right? They question: Why didn’t I? What is wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Nothing, is the answer. We are all equally important to our communities, and while others have much, there are so many with so little due to some unfortunate circumstance. Not everyone can pick themselves up by their bootstraps.
So, what can we do as a community? See each other. Watch out for each other. If we can slip the person pumping our gas a few extra dollars, you’d be surprised how grateful they will be and how a little bit of kindness can make someone’s entire day and possibly give them enough money to buy their lunch that day.
Watch for signs in our everyday activities because, if we do, we will be able to see, and, seeing, become conscious of the needs of people in our community. The more you look, the more you see. Help without wanting anything in return, give grace. Help without judging, help without recognition, help without reservation. All of us together can change an entire community. We never know by the way someone looks if they need help.
Unkempt children may mean they might not have a place to lay their heads.
Our server or dishwasher in the restaurant may not have eaten that day.
A parent may be working three jobs and not be able to fully support his or her children’s education. We shouldn’t look down on someone standing on a street corner because we don’t know how they ended up there.
A family may have eaten pancakes for breakfast every morning for six months because you can buy a bag of mix for $8; they may have eaten pasta every night for six months because $10 worth will last all week.
They may have never been to a school dance because they didn’t have the proper clothes.
They may have never been on a vacation and never been able to fully answer the question, “What did you do this summer?”
These are things many of us never even have to think about, but it is the reality of many and the poverty next door. Let’s change this together. We can do it!
To access information on poverty statistics for Sisters visit: https://worldpopula