Posted by: Renee | September 4, 2012

She Inspires Me

I believe many of us have a ways to go when it comes to embracing the social and economically disadvantaged people around us.  Too often I hear more fortunate people focusing on how these people have ended up where they are – making assumptions and generalizations that allow us to blame the disadvantaged for their own plight and remove ourselves from any responsibility for what should be disturbing disparities in society.  Sadly, such conversations happen even within the walls of our churches – odd, since I can’t recall a single instance when Jesus debated why someone was in need or whether they would abuse the help as a precursor for whether they deserved to be helped.  

The following story was written by Heather Ivery, Director of Stewpot’s Opportunity Center, a day shelter for homeless people.  The Opportunity Center is one of several facilities operated by Stewpot Community Services, which can always make use of our donations and volunteer work. 

“She Inspires Me”

About three months ago a young lady came to the Opportunity Center. She stood out to me at first because she was a woman and there are very few women who come to the Center. But she stood out even more because of her attitude. She lacked that “beaten by the world, defeated, hopeless attitude that so often accompanies people when they first come to us. Instead, she seemed determined and focused on what she needs to accomplish in order to get on her feet. Kim, it turns out is a single mother form Cuba, MS. She is in her mid 20’s and came to Jackson after being laid off when the company she worked for closed. Her hope was to be able to find work in Jackson because it is a bigger city. She left her children with her aunt and came here with no more than a bag of clothes and the few dollars she had managed to scrounge up.

Now, I can hear some people saying now, “why would you come all the way here without a place to stay?”.  Some people even use this as a reason to not want homeless services in Jackson because they believe it somehow “attracts” people to come here and live homeless.

But Kim didn’t come here for that. She didn’t have any idea where she would stay when she got here. She only knew that she could not provide for her children in the place she was and had to seek out something better. If that meant sacrificing a roof over her head, it was worth it. If it meant going to a place she was unfamiliar with no way to return home unless she was successful in her job search, so be it. Her willingness to sacrifice her own safety and comfort for the welfare of her family was inspirational. It was also the drive behind her determination.

Once Kim found the Opportunity Center, we were able to help her get what she needed. She utilized the computer lab to search for jobs and fill out online applications. She was able to get the clothes she needed for interviews from the Clothes Closet and hygiene supplies so she could present her best self. We were even able to help her track down an extended family member in town that eventually allowed her to stay in their home for a while.

It still took almost 2 months for Kim to find a job. But, her persistence paid off last month with a part time job at Popeye’s. As excited as she was to get this job, she knows she needs much more than part-time minimum wage to get on her feet and provide for her children. She is still pursuing other job possibilities and I have every confidence she will continue to move on to bigger and better things.  She inspires me.

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Responses

  1. It takes bravery to do what she did. Thank you for posting this Renee. God bless. Scott


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