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Thread: Thanksgiving - Part 2

  1. #1
    Senior Member Geila's Avatar
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    Thanksgiving - Part 2

    Just posting this to process some uncomfortable feelings.

    This morning I met a woman who is living in a garage with her 2 children. The garage is just a makeshift room without carpeting or any other comfort amenities. She pays $1000 per month. The single bathroom is located inside the house and is shared by many people. She gets up at 3 am and drives two towns over for her job at 7-11. She pays someone to get her kids to school in the morning and feels lucky to be able to pick them up in the afternoon before she heads to her second job.

    I want to invite her and her children to come live with us. We have so much extra room. I want to offer to take care of her kids so she doesn't have to pay someone. I want to give her one of my area rugs. I want to alleviate some of her hardship. And I want to alleviate the hardship for her children.

    But most of all, I wish that life were not so unfair. So harsh for some and yet so easy for others. I feel so sad and guilty and pained at the luxury and comfort that surrounds me while she and her children struggle to get by. And I feel cold and heartless at the prospect of idly standing by and doing nothing at all, while at the same time feeling overwhelmed because I know the need is so great and so vast.

    Because this woman is just one of the many people struggling all around me. Compared to her, the family of four sharing a 1-bedroom apartment across the street seem very lucky. And the people living in their car two streets over, I have to avert my eyes when I walk by because I don't want to see it. It's too painful.

    How does one maintain compassion without becoming overwhelmed with attachment and guilt?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    Just posting this to process some uncomfortable feelings.

    This morning I met a woman who is living in a garage with her 2 children. The garage is just a makeshift room without carpeting or any other comfort amenities. She pays $1000 per month. The single bathroom is located inside the house and is shared by many people. She gets up at 3 am and drives two towns over for her job at 7-11. She pays someone to get her kids to school in the morning and feels lucky to be able to pick them up in the afternoon before she heads to her second job.

    I want to invite her and her children to come live with us. We have so much extra room. I want to offer to take care of her kids so she doesn't have to pay someone. I want to give her one of my area rugs. I want to alleviate some of her hardship. And I want to alleviate the hardship for her children.

    But most of all, I wish that life were not so unfair. So harsh for some and yet so easy for others. I feel so sad and guilty and pained at the luxury and comfort that surrounds me while she and her children struggle to get by. And I feel cold and heartless at the prospect of idly standing by and doing nothing at all, while at the same time feeling overwhelmed because I know the need is so great and so vast.

    Because this woman is just one of the many people struggling all around me. Compared to her, the family of four sharing a 1-bedroom apartment across the street seem very lucky. And the people living in their car two streets over, I have to avert my eyes when I walk by because I don't want to see it. It's too painful.

    How does one maintain compassion without becoming overwhelmed with attachment and guilt?
    My suggestion/answer would be - by doing something. Do whatever you can to address any of the above to the best of your ability. If averting your eyes works to alleviate your pain, I guess that is something, too.

    Edited: Reading my response, I can see how it may come across as seeming "harsh", although it was not written with that intent at all! I just mean, if you really want to DO something, then do it!
    To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer." Mahatma Gandhi

    Be nice whenever possible. It's always possible. - Dalai Lama

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    You have a big heart, Geila. Life can be terribly unfair. I have no answers. When you have no money every day is like avoiding land mines. A lot of people don't know what it's like to try to raise kids on no money despite working two jobs, but it's not fun, and it's not easy.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member Simplemind's Avatar
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    Geila I think your wanting to do something to change this woman's life is wonderful. I find myself in similar situations where I often despair that a family isn't going to make it and have to tell myself that the problem didn't start today and it isn't going to end today. However, some people can benefit from some assistance with problem solving and available resources. I haven't opened my home (have been very very close) but I have been able to help in finding more affordable housing along with additional resources. Enough to give a bit of a break and some breathing room. I can't stop myself when I see that spark, that fighting spirit that just needs a bit of a break, that leg up that gets them over that barrier. With others it is tragic but you also know that short of a miracle you aren't going to be able to make a difference.

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    If I remember correctly you need your space and didn't like your husband's relatives? friends? over to visit so I wouldn't recommend inviting anyone to live with you. Maybe get some Christmas presents for the kids. If you have connections you can leverage to help the mom get a better job that would make a real difference.

  6. #6
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    What about a basket of food delivered?
    Is there an accessible to those in need a source of food and clothing and school supplies that you can assist?
    We have Salvation Army team that assesses those in need and I contribute annually to this. They provide the support discreetly and wisely. Other agencies defer to them because they are so helpful to anybody.
    I also man shifts on the Christmas Kettle drive.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    I have thought several times about letting someone who is down and out live in my basement temporarily but I also realize that there are too many things that might go awry in that situation...so I wouldn't recommend that. Surely there are local services that could help out a single mom with kids living in those conditions. I feel for the kids especially as the mom might have made some unfortunate choices early on or never had any opportunity to create a better life situation. There are several older men who live in their cars in the park near us. They move their cars around frequently so as not to get ticketed. There is help for them but they prefer to live in solitude within their cars.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Here, when you let someone move into your place they have tenant rights of a sudden. Makes no difference if they’re paying rent or not. I wouldn’t do that, let people move in, without having some sort of written agreement that meets the letter of the law.

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    I keep coming back to - how can someone LEGALLY charge $1000 a month rent on a garage with no bathroom? Which to me, intimates that it is not even a "studio" apartment. Is there running water in this garage? Is there a kitchen? Is there heat? The whole thing sounds very illegal. I know in my area, even subsidized housing costs less and has more amenities.
    To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer." Mahatma Gandhi

    Be nice whenever possible. It's always possible. - Dalai Lama

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    Quote Originally Posted by happystuff View Post
    I keep coming back to - how can someone LEGALLY charge $1000 a month rent on a garage with no bathroom? Which to me, intimates that it is not even a "studio" apartment. Is there running water in this garage? Is there a kitchen? Is there heat? The whole thing sounds very illegal. I know in my area, even subsidized housing costs less and has more amenities.
    If it's subsidized shouldn't it cost less though?

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