Poverty rate unchanged: Mom says hard times teach her kids compassion
Poverty rate figures show 15 percent of Americans with family incomes under $23,021: One mom in that population sees lessons in compassion for her kids as a bi-product of her family's trials.
The overall poverty rate in 2011 remained at a record level – 15 percent of the American population at or below the annual income of $23,021 for a family of four, new data from the US Census shows. It was statistically unchanged from the 15.1 percent in the previous year. Blogger Lisa Suhay comments on how families in that 15 percent cope, and a bi-product for her kids is compassion.Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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I just spent several exhausting, sweaty days helping friends divest themselves of a huge chunk of their worldly goods. They were moving into a small condo across town, having hit a crater in the financial road and been forced out of their rental house.
I saw the excited avarice in the eyes of my sons as they were gifted with DVDs, books, and clothing. And I had to take the time to help them understand that these gifts came from someone’s misfortune and the price of those things was compassion for those in dire straits.
After the talk, I didn’t have to ask my sons to toil in the dead heat (the electricity in the neighbor’s house was shut off so there was no air conditioning) with us as we packed, sorted, and loaded vehicles bound for various places like Hope House Thrift Store and The Park Place Clothes Closet. They could have given all of their belongings to friends, put things on consignment or eBay; instead, the family chose to let others benefit from their loss.
"I think it's easier to part with some of these things if I know someone will really love them like we did," my friend said. "It helps to know they're going to good use."
It's interesting how unforgiving society has become about people who lose their homes, businesses or can't pay for something. It reminds me a bit of when children learn to play chess. As soon as a beginner slips up and moves a piece wrong, the opponent is almost sure to shout, "You can't make that move! He's a cheater!"
I always have to stop the action and explain that sometimes people make errors, but that doesn't mean they did it to make us unhappy or to cheat us.
My choice to be a freelancer so I could stay home five years ago when our youngest, now eight, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Aspergers Syndrome came back to slay us financially as the economy withered.