Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I am often asked by people who don’t work at Hope House what we are doing to “teach our clients to fish”. I think this bothers me for several reasons:
• It infers our clients are too lazy and/or not trying to “fish”.
• It assumes everyone can “fish”.
• It also assumes there is a level playing field out there.
The truth is that we don’t attempt to “teach” our clients anything. That would indicate that they have something to learn. Since when is being broke/poor/young/mentally ill/physically challenged/elderly/alone or down on your luck a consequence of not knowing how to “fish”? What we DO at Hope House is attempt to make life a little easier for those who are struggling, no matter what the cause of their distress.
We do not assume that we have anything to teach them, nor that their lives are somehow “less-than” because they need help. I daresay you would find many of our clients feel their lives are perfectly normal and acceptable. How arrogant to assume we or anyone else knows better than them how to live!
As for that playing field, we don’t all start at the same place in life, with the support systems many of us take for granted. Many of our clients are undereducated as a result of less than stellar parenting and support, and a lack of resources to excel. Those who suffer from mental or physical disorders often find themselves out of luck in the job market. Many who are battling addiction find the road to sobriety to be long and twisting. The simple truth is we have clients who work hard at 2-3 jobs and still need some assistance to make it through the month. Language can be a barrier for those who are recently immigrated to our country, and youth alone can be a devastating strike against those young mothers trying to do the right thing by their children.
Many, if not most, of our clients know how to “fish”.
They just can’t get to the pond.