Tag Archives: community

5 Things Poor People Need That No Program in the USA Offers Assistance For

30 Nov
Photo Courtesy of openDemocracy

Most people reading might not know that, for the past year, I’ve been unemployed. My former job required me to drive. Since my car accident in February, it has been difficult to find work. My insurance didn’t fully cover the cost of another car (that figures), and my credit would stop me from getting anything. Out where I live, there aren’t too many car lots that don’t run a credit check.

On top of that, I have a severe disability that makes it hard for me to be hired for just any job. I’m also a 5″ petite femme-looking person, and that holds me back from being hired for the physically laborious jobs that are usually reserved for men by the employers.

Like many people in my situation, the Pandemic already dried up a lot of my savings last year when hours were reduced. The car accident was horribly timed, just as I was trying to restore my savings.

Unlike many people in my situation, I don’t have family members and friends I can rely on for help.

The first thing I did was I sought help from my State in my Country, the USA. Sure, there are Food Stamps or Food Assistance Programs, programs to help keep the water, gas, and electric on, and even ways to get your rent paid. But I realized how inaccessible even those resources are when you’re lacking programs to help in other ways. There are other, possibly even more, important things that poor people need that seem to be largely inaccessible, and it makes getting the available resources, like Food Stamps, difficult as well.

When talking to anyone about these issues, it becomes clear that people don’t realize what privileges they have. The privileged tend to give the worst advice, even those working with programs that are supposed to help the poor, like the Salvation Army. Even the resource hotline in the USA, 2-1-1, has been stumped when trying to help me get access to the resources I’m about to go into.

Here are some of the things people don’t realize are necessities and are largely inaccessible.

Toiletries, Diapers, and Feminine Hygiene Products

It’s definitely a cis man’s world. Back when I used to work with HSAs (Health Spending Accounts) and FSAs (Flexible Spending Accounts) in 2020, it shocked me how menstrual care products weren’t even covered pre-tax as a qualified medical expense. But Viagra was. Eventually, the government caved during the Pandemic, but why did it take all of that to get this necessity covered?

Men don’t need Viagra; those who menstruate do need menstrual products. They can’t help that blood comes out of them every month.

I have fibroids, huge ones, and bleed extremely heavy every month. I’m sure readers don’t want to hear all of that, but the problem is that no one wants to talk about it. We need to talk about this. For many poor people, trying to find any services that offer free feminine hygiene products is horrifying.

People who menstruate also need toiletries, like toilet paper and soap.

Sure, I’ve had people tell me about their old grandma in the 1940s who used rags. They also used old t-shirts as pads. But tell me how many of them didn’t have soap to wash these rags after every use? How many people had proper drying racks for hanging?

They all cost, and I’m sure when people suddenly become poor nowadays, they don’t have these items available because they never thought they would need it. They also can’t just get up and go buy these things.

Further, how many people truly got infections back then because they didn’t fully clean their rags, which probably needed Bleach? Probably many more people.

Also, how many old shirts can one find in a year? How many rags need to be ruined to the point you don’t even have any to wash your body or your dishes? I don’t have a dishwasher, so everything is washed by hand.

If your blood flow is as bad as mine, you’re running through rags and damaging them. Washing has to be consistent in order to avoid infection, which can be hard when you can’t afford SOAP.

It’s pathetic that there are food stamps but there are no “stamps” for these very important needs. Even the Salvation Army and other local programs have all the food and clothes in the world, but no toiletries and menstrual products.

If you have the privilege of having the internet, it’s difficult to find any programs across the whole country. The ones that exist only help their own small community, and they don’t offer any free shipping to another state.

My local hospital is in another town, far away, and doesn’t offer enough pads for the whole week. I have run through at least 3 big bags of Always’s Overnight per menstrual period, and this is with a menstrual cup (which I’m thankful I invested in years ago). This is aside from the fact there’s been a shortage recently.

Why aren’t enough people speaking up about this? Have people found a way around this issue, and I just don’t know about it?

Diapers are also overlooked by these programs. I’m sure it’s so the companies that make these products profit off of people for things they’ve made people dependent on. I get it. But, like with food, there still should be some sort of programs that allow people to access these necessities.

Assistance with Washing

Speaking of needing access to soap, I’d like to add that poor people do need help with washing. If you don’t live in a house with a washing machine and dryer, you either have to have soap to be able to wash clothes by hand, a drying rack or some way of drying the clothes outside, or you need money for the laundry mat. To add, poor people need to be able to find a laundry mat nearby in their neighborhood in the first place.

In my case, in my apartment, tenants have to pay to use the washing machines and dryers. The cost comes to 4.00 ($2.00 wash and $2.00 to dry) every two weeks. That’s a lot of money for someone with no money.

If an individual doesn’t have family members, friends, or even kind neighbors, what are the next best options? Sure, a poor person can make their own soap, granted they have the ingredients necessary lying around in their cupboards before they became broke, and wash by hand. It’s hard to dry without a drying rack, but I guess it can be done by laying clothes out on a bush or a few chairs.

But overall, something is going to cost eventually.

Without clean clothes, it’s hard to function, especially when you don’t have access to feminine hygiene products. People can’t even go on job interviews without clean clothes.

This is aside from the fact that finding clean clothes at shelters or at the Salvation Army is difficult, too. I don’t even want to go into trying to find clean underwear.

Phone, Internet, Printing, and Mailing Services

Even though the world has progressed, it appears that state resources haven’t. This is possibly just in my area, but phone service and internet are still not considered necessities. I wonder what these rich politicians would think if their services were suddenly cut off for the month.

Almost every resource available either requires people to call for an appointment or to go to the facility. If the building that offers the resource is way across town, it can be difficult to go directly to the place. Often times, the best way to reach any person or place is by phone. To add, afterwards, many of these places often call back with results. How can they reach people with no phone service?

If poor people apply for jobs, they often have to wait for a call back, too. How would they know if they got the job or not without phone service?

No one uses landline phones anymore. Everyone uses cell phone service because it’s convenient and safe to use in and out of the house. Why isn’t it covered as a utility yet? There are a few phone services that offer discounts, but if an individual is poor, they can’t afford to even pay the discounted price. The one source where the government pays for phone service requires a poor person to have a child.

I believe 911 never cuts off on a cell phone, but this is only a hunch. How can any poor person reach someone in an emergency situation?

Cell phones can also offer internet, so it has the ability to offer two services in one go.

It’s crazy how some people still think internet isn’t a necessity. The Pandemic taught everyone how important the internet is. If it weren’t for the internet, millions of people would have been out of work. Many companies would have shut down entirely.

Nowadays, most companies, even the fast food restaurants and local grocery stores, require people to apply for jobs online. I can’t tell you how many stores I’ve gone into that no longer offer hard copy applications anymore. Believe me, I’ve asked.

No one can just go up to a store manager and ask for side work anymore. We don’t live in that age. So why is the nation so behind in understanding how important this is?

The library would normally be the next best place to go, but my nearest library is literally two hours away, in another town. Also, it costs to use the internet in many libraries. Even $.50 is a lot for a poor person, especially when they are deciding whether to use the money to wash clothes, eat, or use the internet.

Printing and faxing are extra expenses aside from using the internet. I’ve come to realize that in order to get approved for state resources such as Food Assistance and Utility Assistance, I needed documentation to PROVE I needed it. In order to prove that, I needed to either have companies mail copies of important documentation to me or I needed to print it from my email. Often times, the window for turning in this documentation is very small. The easiest option is to have a company email documentation and print it off. But oops-that costs.

Many of these services don’t allow poor people to print at their facilities. So, how are poor people supposed to prove they are poor when they are too poor to prove it?

Printing resumes is another important chore. Who offers services for that? Poor people are often talked down on, told they are bums, that they just don’t want to work, considering so many jobs are supposedly “hiring everywhere now”. Well, who is helping these poor people print off their resumes, something required by nearly every job now?

And after printing all of these documents, trying to get it to the facilities without proper transportation can be extremely difficult. Mailing is an option, but it’s also a costly one. The cost to send even one simple letter has gone up over the years, and it can be a lot for a poor person, especially for someone who is sending documents to more than one facility.

Resume-Building and Interview Assistance

While we’re on the subject of resumes, it’s very clear a lot of poor people need help with building their resumes and preparing for interviews. Many people have been on their personal jobs for years before being let go. The Pandemic put a lot of people out of jobs they’ve been on for many years. Their resumes may no longer be as strong as it was before and their interview finesse may be lacking.

But getting help with resumes and interviews is a very costly thing. When trying to put myself out there, I’ve landed many interviews, but haven’t gotten any jobs. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I also don’t have the money to find out.

There are programs that help poor people find work without resumes, but those programs usually require poor people to travel across town to long-distance facilities. Most of these programs exist in Urban areas, not small towns.


I’ve mentioned throughout most of this article how “this was way across town” or “that is far away”. This leans into the most difficult thing for poor people to find: transportation. People don’t realize how privileged they are to have it.

I spoke with a representative working with the Salvation Army. She told me that I needed to come into the facility the very next day to get help with my utilities, otherwise the money could dry up quickly or it will be used before I got there. I asked her how I could get there. She said “Take the bus” or get an “Uber”. She’s clearly never been poor in the town she works in, which is my town.

Those are very condescending words when speaking to poor people. First off, believe it or not, in my neighborhood, public transportation largely doesn’t exist. Believe it or not, public transportation isn’t available everywhere. Yes, you read that correctly. No bus service, at all. Second, the bus costs nearly $2.00 to take, both to travel to a destination and to get home. Most poor people would have to beg on the streets to get that kind of money for transportation, especially when they are trying to save their change for the other costly items mentioned before.

There is a “free ride” service in my community, but riders have to call two weeks in advance to schedule in a ride. That’s not helpful when the Salvation Army tells people to get there the next day or risk losing resources. It’s also not helpful when poor people need to make several trips throughout the week to get documentation, to go on job interviews, or to go get groceries and other important items.

Walking is always an option. However, the summer is blazing hot and the winters are bitter cold where I live. During the summer, I didn’t have money for sunscreen, so my walk to my nearest resource center gave me sunburn. And Aloe Vera isn’t free, either. Poor people also need to be able to carry water. That means they need a container to put the water in. Bottled water isn’t free.

During the Winter, poor people need adequate hats and gloves to walk the two hours it takes to get to the facility that helps with Utility and Food Assistance. It’s not so nice to have to walk to these facilities in mountains of snow, either.


Being poor has helped me check my former privilege in ways unimaginable. Before being poor, I thought I knew what was most important: Food and shelter. But no. Our society has developed in a way that has made us dependent on certain resources that there’s no way to live without it. Unless the solution is to have poor people die off in a “survival-of-the-fittest” type of way, the USA needs to do more to help the poor.

There needs to be programs that offer feminine hygiene products, soap, and toiletries. There should be “banks” or drives that offer that. Possibly Incontinence and Feminine Products Stamps. There should be vouchers or community washing machines somewhere in every community. It should be as available as libraries. At least, apartments should have one free washing machine and dryer for residents. Phones and Internet are now necessities and should be covered by the same programs that offer Food and Utility Assistance. These facilities that offer assistance programs should invest in transportation and should allow poor people to print and gather documentation at their facilities. Every community, at minimum, should have public transportation. The window for gathering documentation should be longer than 10 days. The Salvation Army shouldn’t make appointments with people if there’s no guarantee the money won’t be there. The appointments’ line order should decide who gets the available money. This ensures poor people aren’t wasting their time setting up a date and crawling around for transportation only to find the money is dried up by the time they find something. Every community should have a career center that helps adults transition back to work. At minimum, people can make appointments with a career expert and have them review resumes.

As the elections come up, I think citizens need to think more about where their tax money is going and whether it will help them, in the long run, when they’re at their lowest. That should shape our politics, who we vote for, and the changes we want to see in the future. There’s no way a supposed “1st world country”, such as the USA, should have so many issues dealing with the poor, yet here we are.

If you need another great read, check out: openDemocracy’s If You’ve Never Lived In Poverty, Stop Telling Poor People What They Should Do. It’s very good for people who are interested in giving advice to friends and family members in poverty.

Please think before you speak and be kind.


‘Black Power’: Useful or Abusive?

20 Jul

Today, I came to a resolution: Black people can and do ruin things.

I am African American myself, so I think that it’s fair for me to say this about my ethnicity.

First and foremost, yes, I think a small portion of it has to do with black culture colliding with white culture. Is that not the problem? Since the beginning of time, Asian, Native American, African, and European culture have been distinctly different from one another. But unlike other nations who came into the US to live in a new country, and so they even gave up some of their old country’s ways to adapt, most African Americans didn’t come on their own free will, and so didn’t really want to give up African ways. This made African culture a part of American culture largely because it just wasn’t given up in their hearts or minds, and instead, made an impression on society, just like the Native Americans. Of course, back in the history of America, slavery caused bitterness, and then later prejudice, segregation, injustice, inequality, and racism did as well, which people who have never gone through it would never understand. They would simply say “Get over it”.

But let me tell you why it’s not easy to GET OVER things like that. What if you were forced to be in a relationship with someone for 20 years, and for 20 years they abused you by beating you, spitting on you, calling you names? Just because you were short/ugly/pretty/fat/slow/fast etc? No one here could say they would accept it. Many would say they couldn’t forgive that person. And say for instance you were forced into a nice marriage…is it still not force? What if you loved someone else? What if you didn’t want to be tied down just yet? What if you didn’t want children, but they forced you? But you were still forced to follow the will of someone else? Someone you barely knew? And you were forced to live with that person? And no legal laws could get you out of it? How would YOU feel?

American slavery is similar to the banking system now…the more I think about it…

Anyway, some people can say the following things: 1) Slavery is over and so is segregation 2) Generation today never lived through it, so why should this generation bring it up?

Well for starters, the Civil Rights Movement didn’t end until about 40 or so years ago. Slavery and Segregation lasted over 100 years. That’s 100 years of oppression versus 40 years of freedom. It would take about another 60 years or more before the seed of it is completely vanquished. Many of the people who lived through it are still living today, and teaching their children about what they went through during those times. These are grandparents and mothers who still live today that went through it. My mother was born when the Civil Rights Movement was taking place, and my great-grandmother, with whom I am so close to, went through it. So, yes, our generation didn’t go through it, but it is painful when someone you love has gone through it, and to think about them being treated wrong is hard itself. It will take a lot of action to make up for the mistakes America’s ancestors made. ‘You Break it, you gotta fix it’ America.

And racism still exists. Maybe not at the magnitude it was, but it still exists. Racist attitudes exist. Observe the comments’ section on Youtube while watching videos about “Africa” or even “Salt N’ Peppa”. There ARE white people who truly think they’re superior to black people. There are white people in power who take their racist ideas and try to subtly hold other minorities back.

I have experienced real racism in high school in 2006. My sibling was in a class with a white teacher, who hated Asians, Latin Americans, Islamic, and African Americans/Black people. She would sit all of the people of color at the front of the classroom and would subtly allow white people to sit wherever they wanted. She gave them an assigned seat to cover her tracks in case someone turned her in, but whenever they moved around the room, she wouldn’t say much. But when any of the people of color moved even slightly, she would scold or write them up. She wrote up the valedictorian, a black girl, because she “thought” she was talking, and the girl never EVER said a word!

When white students didn’t complete their assignments, she would give them extensions. But when a person of color accidentally forgot their COMPLETED assignment in their locker, she would count it as an F.

I remember there was one boy who was half Mexican, half white. For most of the year, she thought he was white. But when he celebrated Mexican Independence Day, she found out he was Mexican. Guess what? You know what. She began to treat him differently after that. That’s when he began to realize this.

This woman was so racist, she wouldn’t even ask to see the parents of the minorities on Parent-Teacher conferences, even if the student was failing and poorly behaved! That’s how racist she was. And it was hard to prove that she was racist, too. She definitely covered her tracks.

For me, racism is real. Many people may think that I’m exaggerating or lying. No, it’s real.

I just wanted to add that this teacher also hated Jews and Catholics, so if she found out you were affiliated with those religions, she would also treat them like crap. But many of the white kids in this class didn’t associate with any religions. I can’t imagine if they had…But this made it even harder to prove. We didn’t have the full support of every kid in the class.

So, see? I’m not just a self-hating black person, who is excusing racism like so many of my readers may think. I’m not ignoring issues, and yes, my life matters.

But that goes for in the WHITE community AND the BLACK community.

I must admit, though, that the idea of segregation, discrimination, and racism has really been taken too far among the black race. It has no longer really become about the black race anymore. It’s just about power and money, the ruination of the whole world. It has been taken out of context so much, it isn’t taken seriously anymore. And this makes people ignore when it REALLY happens.

To add, black people have far greater issues than White-on-black crime.

Instead of elevating, coming together to combat our problems so we can combat greater issues, the black race is still in the state it’s in. And yes, we can say it’s because other cultures who came to this country and were able to start their own businesses and ground family businesses. They were able to prosper. But whatever happened to bouncing back up from a crisis? And the new immigrants that come every year who have to start over? There were plenty of black people in the past who were able to make changes and start their own business, and they LIVED in the days of segregation. So what is the excuse?

We can blame gangsta rap, because ever since the inclusion of it, blacks have been encouraged to fight for equality by using their own methods and using violence to do so. However, blacks aren’t fighting for equality against the police for racial reasons nowadays. They are too busy shooting each other.

So who is to blame anymore? If you look at statistics, shall we get a peek, and embarrass this ethnicity? :


Anyone and everyone has witnessed black people having the following problems in the following areas:

1) Crime increases when black people move into neighborhoods. Especially gun violence. Black people also always fight anytime they get together for any event. The Black Expo in Indiana seems to have a shoot-out every year. It’s the reason the Black Expo was cancelled in Chicago. Black people don’t seem to know how to act in public, in private, and they don’t know how to run productive communities without messing it up. They don’t clean their communities, show up for community meetings, or pay taxes or give other donations. The schools also become violent and dangerous, and as much as parents try to move their kids, more than likely it could be your kid causing most of the problems. Drugs are always the main foundation for businesses if there are any productive businesses. This is very true in my own neighborhood.

2) Businesses begin to close down because businesses are afraid of being robbed and killed through gun violence. To add, they are afraid of drama, like fighting, loud and flip-mouth customers, and other disturbances within the community. Plus, the value of the store decreases and people stop shopping in areas where violence is prevalent.

3) Black people are the laziest workers, the least willing to make changes on the job and in relationships, they never want to commit to anything, neither do they want to take up more responsibilities,  and often are amongst the least friendly when it comes to people who are different from them. Black people love to complain about their jobs, they complain about who is getting more money, but in the same breath don’t want to do any work and come late in and leave early out. Black people want to deny this, but at every school, job, or other important event, I have experienced the same pattern of behavior. And I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s there.

4) Black people always want to pull racism into everything, which not only takes the joy out of freedom of speech for everyone, but makes people walk on egg shells every time someone of a different ethnicity comes around. And I blame comedians for this one. Anytime a white person does something, it doesn’t make them racist. Nigger is not used as a derogatory term anymore, especially if used like “What’s up, Nigger?” Simple as this: Black people can say it, so can everyone else. But oh no, black people are so ignorant, you’ll hear the ignorant people in the comment sections saying “That’s the way it is, black people say nigga, no one else.” Technically, that would be make Black people racist.

And this list doesn’t apply to ALL black people. But this is the spirit of the neighborhood. This is something that has been prevalent in the city of Chicago, Detroit, Ferguson, and basically, many communities that are dominated by black people.

Black people even tried to pull racism in the Princess and the Frog! They changed the freaking story because BET said it made black people look bad.

As much as I liked the new story, the old story would’ve been far deeper. They should’ve been thankful they made a black princess movie AT ALL. But black people are never satisfied as long as a white person is making the movie. Nowadays, black people have become the most bias and prejudice ethnicity ever. Now, they just hate white people because they are white. It’s sad. Hate the white people who TRULY hate black people. That is NOT every white person.

Maybe they just really don’t trust white people. And it comes from how they are taught by their parents and grandparents, who grew up not trusting white people. And anybody can be easily persuaded by words from loved ones. To add, who can blame black people for not trusting white people? You just can’t tell the good ones from the bad. Still, you can’t go wrong by getting to know someone first and finding what they are about. I’m not saying become best friends, but see what people are about by observing. Sitting back, and watching.

And goodness, why kill your own race with guns and violence and ruin your own neighborhoods? Soon you’re going to kill so many black people, the only people around will be white people (over-exaggeration). Why? You make yourself look dumb because in one breath you say that you hate white people because they treated blacks wrong, but the same people who cried that they hated white people, killed other black people. Contradictory, much? You’re leaving black people into the minority category by killing them off! By robbing and stealing from other black people, you are taking from other black people who are struggling. This happened to me in my neighborhood. I was robbed by OTHER black people. Not a white person, a BLACK person. If #BlackLivesMatter, why didn’t MY life matter in the eyes of this other black person?

And no, it’s not ALL BLACK PEOPLE, as I said before, but it must be a vast majority, because when a group of black people come together, our communities become destroyed.

I will say this: The black race is a powerful race. The darker colors are associated with “Scorpio” or “The sign of power”. With that being said, power is a black man’s tool, and its use or abuse will prove the black man’s worth.

Black people can use their power for good, just as they did in the past when they built the city of Tulsa, or marched for Civil Rights for all Americans, or just as they came together to vote for the first black president. Even in the way they support their music artists and actors and actresses, like for movies like Dreamgirls and Tyler Perry movies, or singers like Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Beyonce. Most of the biggest talents have been supported, sponsored, or produced through some very successful black people. If you are working with a black person, like Justin Bieber is working with Usher, black people will support you, and you are bound to be famous. If anyone wants to get famous, find a black person. Disney really became the icon for teen shows especially when That’s So Raven came out and she started the children’s sitcom trend that continues today.

But when they use their power for bad, woe is the person who is around them, because it can bring devastating and disastrous results.

I conclude this by saying that people of Generation Scorpio may really admire black people and their way of gaining power. But there is a warning for all people of all ethnic backgrounds: Learn to direct your power so that you can benefit everyone and help EVERYONE elevate, not just you, or your mother, or your grandmother, or your best friend, or your “kind”. Until people learn to do that, there will always be problems in the United States of America and in the black community.

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