Ever since Scary Mommy wrote her post on being one of “those people” who have had to depend on food banks at some point, there’s been some reflection going on around the blogosphere. Some bloggers, like Jill of Life Is Not Bubble Wrapped, are focusing on helping “those people” in small ways that we can all do instead of condemning or demeaning them.
I already work to help “those people” as much as I can through my work with Cloth for a Cause. There’s no shame in being one of “those people.” Honestly, I pretty much agree with Matt Paxton of Hoarders: he’s said “we’re all three or four decisions away from pooping in a bucket.” It can happen to anyone through a series of hard knocks.
I’ve gone into sketchy neighborhoods in Prince George to deliver diaper packages and work with parents on how to use their diapers. I’ve gone out to some pretty impoverished outlying regions for the same purpose. It can be dangerous, even in small Prince George… which has the highest crime rate in Canada. Even still, though, when I’m out in the hood, I never look around at “those people” and clutch my keys a little tighter. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel concerned about my own safety. Even in most of the rougher areas in Prince George, I feel safe.
But I had a light bulb moment the other day. It reminded me of the privilege that I take for granted because I’ve never been one of “those people” even when I could have been. (Single mom who had a baby at 19? Yeah, I very easily could have been one of “those people,” and would have been had I not stayed at home with my family.)
I was taking Norton to a playgroup for language delayed preschoolers. It’s at the CDC, which means Child Development Centre here in Prince George. The CDC has lots of great programs: occupational therapy, physiotherapy, child care and preschool, and countless others. Some of the services (like Norton’s playgroup, which falls under the category of their speech and language pathology services in conjunction with the Northern Health Unit) have a fee associated with them. Those fees, however, are reduced for low income families.
Or, you know, “those people.”
While we were parking in the sketchiest part of the ‘hood in an area that I’d be reluctant to go to alone (but have, with no problems ever), I was there with my two children. As I was looking around at some unsavory types walking down the street, I found myself wishing that the CDC was in a better neighborhood.
Then I had a light bulb moment.
The simple fact is, as much as I’d rather that the CDC was located elsewhere, it’s in the place it needs to be. It needs to be in the VLA (which officially stands for Veteran’s Land Act, but is also said to mean “violent living area”) because that’s where “those people” often are.
I have the resources to drive my child to the CDC. Worst case scenario, I could take the bus because we do have bus routes here. I could hop a cab if really desperate. I do have that privilege. In the VLA, people often do not have those resources available. They may not have the extra funds to cab it. There’s a good possibility that they don’t have a car. They need to have services available to them in an area where they can access it. After all, while it might be very convenient to have CDC services in my (much safer) neighborhood, it would not be of any help to “those people.” Services are no good to them if they can’t get to them.
What does that mean for me? I’m obviously not going to start a campaign to move the CDC. I’ll obviously have to continue to suck it up and make the drive out to the CDC every week for Norton’s language delay playgroup. I’ll also go out there with flyers for Cloth for a Cause and bring them to the desk at the CDC. After all, there’s nothing wrong with being one of “those people.” Maybe this can be something that will help.
Have you ever had a light bulb moment that made you realize how good you had it and how you can help others who don’t?
Image credits: By Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons