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The Truth About Living on Public Assistance

12/14/2015 Laura Watkins 8 Comments

The Truth About Living on Public Assistance

This is a delicate topic, so I hope you will be patient with my rambling thoughts. 

I try really hard not to be offended by things like this, but it hurts. People don't know, so they judge. This kind of gross generalization is meant to stir up hatred and anger. This particular meme was shared 1.2 MILLION times on Facebook. That's a lot of angry people. Yet, whenever I've talked to people one on one about things like this and how my family receives government assistance, they always say something like, "Oh, we didn't mean you!" 



One time, at a church activity, some ladies were chatting and ended up talking about how upset they get when they're at in line at the grocery store and see someone with the newest iPhone paying with foodstamps. I showed them my phone and told them that we received government assistance. I explained that while my phone looked expensive, that, because of my husband's discount at work, our cell cost less than most landlines. After a lot of backpedaling, they agreed that you never know what someone's situation is--if they got the phone as a gift, if it was the ONE thing they'd saved for, etc.  




The worst of humanity is always the most visible. Yes, our welfare programs are terribly flawed. Yes, there are people who abuse the system. Yes, there are people with a sense of entitlement that inspired this meme. There is always a reason to be angry. 

But it's Christmas. Instead of focusing of the worst in people and how we've been wronged, can we please try to show some compassion?

I REALLY don't like the welfare system. It's easy to abuse and hard to get back on your feet once you're on it. BUT, with our particular situation, it's the only way our family has been able to live while we work to get through school and through the early stages of building my own business.




I know I'm not the only one that your money has helped through these programs. I can think of several local families who have been helped through difficult times by public assistance. One has gone on to become a lawyer, another an engineer, one just finished his doctorate, another family continues to struggle to support themselves (though they are some of the most frugal and hardworking people I know), etc. 




We dream of the day that we will be free of these programs and can afford to buy our own food, health insurance, and housing. Unless you have been unfortunate enough to need help from these programs, you have no idea what a burden it is to have to accept help from them. It is against my nature, and human nature, I believe, to accept help but give none. I've always been one who wants to help but HATE having to ask for it. I hate that feeling of inadequacy and shame that comes when I have to ask my parents, my church, or the government for help. I work and pray for the day that we can help others instead of constantly being the ones in need.

The other day, something bittersweet happened:

Why the bitter from such a sweet act of kindness? Because I don't want to NOT be enough! I want to be able to pay for my own family's needs. I want a turn being the blessing in someone else's life. I want balance. We've been poor for so long that I'm scared it will never change. It's hard to remember that poor is not who I am, it's just my current income level.

So, if you want a picture of the "ghetto family" you're supporting to hang on your fridge, here's mine. (It was a free family photo, by the way, in case the extravagance of having a family picture taken, like everything else in my life, is concerning to you. Thank you, Google Fiber Provo for the picture, it was the first professional family photo we've had the opportunity to have taken.)



My name is Laura. I'm a 32 year old mother of three children who had to take a leave of absense from college due to extreme health and mental health issues. I started my own business nearly one year ago. My husband is an undergraduate student who has struggled to get through school with all of our problems, who regularly volunteers on several city and community committees, and is one of the most well-read people you'll ever meet. Our children are smart, adorable, and have autism, ADHD, anxiety, and/or clinical depression (just like their parents).

If you have been helping support us through these difficult times, may God bless you!

In 2011, 1 of every 7 Americans received foodstamp benefits. Many of these people were military families or veterans, some of them might have even been your own family or friends. If you feel like posting something like these memes on social media, please think about who you're really attacking.

Merry Christmas, and may we all strive to be kinder, more giving, more forgiving, more compassionate, and the very best we can be.


Resources for Families in Need
If your family needs help, and you don't know where to turn, please consider contacting The United Way.

The United Way is amazing! They have a variety of programs to help those in need, and can help you find resources within your own community. They also provide service opportunities for individuals, groups, and corporations. If you are looking for a way to serve or want to donate to a worthy cause, please look into their programs

My Battle for Better Health goals

For those who are reading my blog for the first time: In the above article, I mentioned my health and mental health struggles.  Since this post has so much to do with those struggles, I've included my goals.

I want to have energy to spend time and actually do activities with my family.
I want to be able to be physically active. I’m not saying I plan on running marathons, but being able to exercise and do basic housecleaning on a daily basis would be nice.
I want my mind to feel less foggy all the time so I can do my job well and enjoy being in the profession I love.
I want to be healthy and be at a healthy weight.
I want my life back! I will look for the best in my life and realize what I truly have, always striving to make it better.
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