Friday, October 19, 2012

Mythbusting Poverty and Homelessness

Best Blogger Tips

Kenita's first priority is always her three beautiful children
Kenita Jackson is a myth buster. She takes people’s stereotypes about poverty and blows them out of the water.

At first glance, many might look at Kenita and see a young single mother of three, no job, living in subsidized housing.

And at that point, too many of them might just write her off.

But take another look. You’ll be amazed. And impressed.

Kenita struggled for years to find a safe and secure home for herself and her three young daughters. When she finally had no resources left she turned, very reluctantly, to Catholic Charities for help.

“One thing you should know about me,” she said, “is that I really hate asking for help. I need to be able to take care of myself and my children.”

She didn't want a hand out, but she did need a hand up - and that's exactly what she found at Catholic Charities' Tenants Empowerment Network (TEN). They helped her afford a decent place to live for her family. And she has been thankful for the financial and parenting classes offered through the program.

Kenita with her case manager, Sr. Bernadette,  at TEN
For every bit of help Kenita's received, she’s given back that much or more in effort, initiative, and unshakeable optimism about her future.

For example, she spent more than a year training as a Medical Administrative Assistant. Each morning she’d get up at 4:00 a.m. in order to take her children to two different daycare centers, and then make it to class by 8:30 sharp.

Today, she has completed her courses and is looking hard for work. In this economy it’s not easy, but Kenita says, “I’m not worried. Catholic Charities has equipped me with so many skills, I know I can handle whatever comes. And I know I’ll never be homeless again.”

That’s what we mean when we say Kenita is a myth buster. Her enthusiasm for life, her drive and spark, and absolute commitment to building a better life, are an inspiring contrast to how many people think about the poor.

In fact, she’s been an inspiration to everyone here at Catholic Charities as well. When we see how hard she works, and the effort she puts into making a positive change for herself and her children, we find our own faith renewed and strengthened.

In Mark, Jesus tells us, “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave to all. For the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 43-45). Kenita’s living example of optimism and determination can challenge and inspire each of us to do more.