Shattering Myths: Living in Poverty
Guest Blog: Genesis Contreras, LIFT-DC Advocate
When I first moved to DC to start my college career I was shocked to see the amount of homeless people that were scattered throughout the streets. I knew that homelessness and poverty were major issues in the District, but I was naïve to the gravity of the situation. It wasn’t until I began working at LIFT-DC last May as an advocate that I became aware of the numerous factors that contribute to the unfortunate circumstances individuals are faced with. Another interesting thing I noted was the strong stigma that existed about those less fortunate. I’ve encountered many individuals who have formed a negative perception of those facing extreme poverty, believing that those who are poverty stricken aren’t doing anything to change their situations. I have also overheard individuals use words such as lazy, irresponsible, and careless to describe the homeless they pass on the streets of downtown DC.
Not only was I taken aback but I was angered by how quickly opinions were formed from a single glance. At LIFT, I have worked with countless members who demonstrate how misconstrued these opinions are. Our members come from every walk of life, on various levels of the poverty line, and who have had long professional careers but have been faced with circumstances out of their control. Their passion and commitment to improving their situations is evident in the efforts they make outside of our office. This also happens to be an essential aspect of how LIFT functions. The work done together inside of the office is nothing without the work they do on their own. Although LIFT provides members with a plethora of resources they would otherwise not have access to, we are foremost the necessary boost of support they need in accomplishing their goals. So many have been faced with discouragement and constant rejection that it can strongly hinder their success. With our support, they can regain confidence and hope that they can rise above their struggles, break-free of the dangerous poverty cycle, and end the negative stereotypes associated with poverty.
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