Posted by: Brenda Kula | October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

Poverty in America through my eyes was when the old-timers talked about the Great Depression. It was folks losing their homes and desperate men jumping from windows to their death. It was standing in soup lines and going through life saving everything. Never knew when you might need an old newspaper or plastic bag… It was unfathomable to me, their need to hoard what they had.

I was born in the late 1950s, and grew up primarily eating from my great-grandmother’s huge garden and hen house. We picked our own berries for fruit cobblers. Each summer I remember the steamed up kitchen as they canned for the next season. Every time there was a thunderstorm, I’d sit in the dim, musty space and look up at the simple shelves of our winter’s bounty. The neatly lined up jars of fruit and vegetables would gleam from the light of the flickering lantern. I associate this with the sounds of thunder cracking overhead and rain pounding down.

As a teen, I was pregnant and homeless for a time. The memories are scant, because it is something I don’t much want to remember. Hoping friends parents would allow me to stay for dinner. Hoping someone would ask me to stay the night. But I never went hungry, thank goodness. I managed.

I worry so, on this day of reflection about poverty, Blog Action Day’s theme for 2008, about the children without milk for their cereal. Who go to bed hungry because mom or dad or both have lost their jobs. They fear of losing what they have left.

I worry so, for the children who watch as their home is foreclosed upon. And they bundle and take what they can and search for shelter. I know what it is like to be a child who has fear woven into their very thoughts, and so I cry for these children. For the “not knowing what will happen” is particularly rough for them. The “unknown” is the most frightening concept of all, because they know they’ve been able to bear what has happened. They don’t know if that will hold true for the things they have yet to see tomorrow or the next day.

Wherever you are on this day, reach out to someone in need. Go through your garage and closets and give to the Salvation Army, etc. Volunteer your time to a worthwhile organization that needs another pair of hands and feet to help other folks out. Give blood. Adopt a homeless animal and teach it that the world can be a friendly place. Or temporarily house a beloved pet for a person who has lost their home and just needs a safe place for it to stay till they find their footing. There are all kinds of ways for us to help.

I can personally vouch for the goodwill and generosity of the Meals On Wheels organization, for I have been a volunteer there for several years. It is so rewarding to knock on a door, to see a face light up at the sight of a hot, nutritious meal. My neighborhood route, Number 18,  is comprised of all elderly clients. I chat a bit with the ones who seem to crave conversation. I may be the only person they see that day. I tell them what the weather is like outside. Urge them to get out and enjoy it if it’s nice. They are so thankful it makes me want to cry as I close the door and head back to the car to head out for the next stop. I feel that they shouldn’t think they have to show such intense gratitude for something so simple as a noonday meal.

I don’t consider myself a social person, and I wouldn’t want to volunteer for something that took more social skills than I have. But I knew this was a good fit for me. I enjoy the elderly, and I feel that they deserve respect and dignity. It is limited contact. I simply go to the facility, sort my food and pack it up. I load it into my car (usually my neighbor goes along to drive and help out) and head out for my own neck of the woods for around 20 stops, give or take.

It feels good to give back. Look around you. Listen. Take stock of what you have. Give. What you get back in return, I promise you, will more than compensate for a few hours time. Just do what you can.

Spread the word on this day of bloggers around the world focusing on poverty. And most of all, do something.

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  1. Thank you Brenda for your wonderful blog. I will spend part of today gathering some boxes of items to take to Goodwill.


  2. It is very kind of you to do the volunteer work you do. Every year we give to the Salvation Army. My husband is an Assistant Scout Master and so is my son. My husband also helps to train homeless people for a job. Some really do want to learn and of course there are those that do not. But his employer takes on the challange. We do what we can to help people. Every little bit does help. It’s not like you have to donate larger amounts of money. Your time is more important to those people. That really does help more then anything.

  3. Wonderful post Brenda it is written from the heart and taken to heart.

  4. Thank you for a wonderful post to remind us all that someone always has less than we have. I will definitely find a way to give. Thank you.

  5. Wonderful reminder of what we can do-NOW! Thanks!

  6. I had a bit of a jog finding you from my place. You have changed things. I’m don’t worry!
    Thank you for your reminder to think about’s not about what we have but about what we give….a wonderful message!

  7. Wonderful post Brenda. I try and donate things rather than throw them out or resale. I also donate to the Mission downtown to help feed the homeless. Every little bit helps, right!

  8. thanks Brenda, a beautifully written post, I have experienced the unknown as a child, looking back as an adult I see just how bad that pain is, a child’s security is priceless

    I have been pondering emergency foster care for a long time, only yesterday I looked at the Barnardos website, I think the time is coming in my life where I have the time to I think it would be a wonderful gift for my children to learn the situation of others and learn how to give back.

    A big decision though and not one I will take lightly


  9. p.s. I commented bach there on the quilt post, wowza!

  10. Brenda, what a very excellent blog. I will join you by reaching out tomorrow to someone in need. Kinda of like that whole pass it on theme..ya know?


  11. Brenda, I’m so glad I found you – I apologize for not knowing you moved.

    Thank you for this post. Yes, it’s good to keep in our hearts that everyone has a story… The little things we take for granted each day like just taking a shower, having a place to get cleaned up, food, a bed to sleep in… Well, the list goes on and on as you know. Wonderful post… and yes, we’ll continue to hold a hand out and keep a warm heart to remember it could easily be any of us.

  12. What a great heart you have Brenda. I am trying to teach my boys to give and volunteer just like my mother taught me. It is the right thing to do and makes us more grateful for the bounty we enjoy.

  13. Brenda,

    This was a great post. I am so concerned for what families are going through in this economy. I will act on your words!

    Thanks again for your sweet encouraging words to my blog posts!

  14. Your story is an inspiration, Brenda.

  15. Brenda, I have not been able to comment back to you because I couldn’t find you. Your blog name on my side bar took me to some sport site and when I emailed you that came back as undeliverable but I finally found you through button floozies and Rosie. Wonderful post you have written today. Over the years I have volunteered for many different organizations. As of Jan. 1, 2009 a percentage of what I make at the boutique will go to the local animal shelter. Hope you have a super great day and I am so glad I found you…..not that you were lost….just lost to me. 🙂 Lynn

  16. P.S. I forgot to tell you that I found those white pottery pumpkins at a store called Garden Ridge last fall.

  17. Great post!
    I am always looking for new small ways to help out and I’ve gotten a few new ideas today. Thanks!

  18. Great post Brenda and some excellent advice and thoughts to ponder.

    I do (and have in the past done even more) volunteer work with people in need and it is so gratifying and fulfilling. It is true, what we give we do receive in return.

  19. A wonderful post, reminding us we really need each other as a community and we must help each other when the chips are down.

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