Editor’s View: There is no shame in accepting a hand-up
Happy New Year! Here’s hoping for brighter, more promising days ahead.
Although 2020 is assuredly now part of our history, I think we can agree the year’s struggles did bring out the very best in many of humankind.
It is my hope we are able to maintain kindness and compassion for those in need, those who continue to make their way back to a greater sense of normalcy and comfort for themselves and their families.
So many of our neighbors - civic groups, churches, community members and more - held drives to collect food, baby items, pet supplies and warm winter gear.
The need remains in 2021.
And while it is critical we find ways to provide these things, it is equally important to remind those who need them that it is OK, that they are there for the taking.
There is no shame in accepting help from the community.
My message today was prompted by a note I received a few months ago, the writer suggesting a photo I published of a family accepting items during a community distribution was unkind and didn’t take the family’s assumed situation into consideration.
Truth is, I did give that particular photo a lot of thought.
The photo reminded me more people need some form of assistance now than ever, and many of them have never been in the position of need.
They might feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to stand in line for food or clothing. They might feel ashamed by a notion that they can’t provide for their own families.
I decided it was important to print the photo to remind those in need of assistance they should come forward and accept the help - and they should be able to do that without judgment.
While food banks and community groups that organize meal giveaways and coat distributions are working hard to gather the items needed, they work equally hard to get the message out that these things are available and there is no shame in showing up.
Many of those who have agreed to be photographed have mentioned they want to encourage others to understand that it is OK to take this offer of assistance.
Accepting help should not be an embarrassment. It’s only possible to further that idea if we stop looking at the idea of need with pity.
This idea of pity could contribute to the fact we have so many homeless, hungry and cold people still in our world. They don’t want, or deserve, to be pitied.
I understand some choose to be without homes and seek shelter on their own, but I don’t believe anyone chooses to be hungry or cold.
The volunteers who staff these distributions of food and other necessities are not sitting in judgment. They are genuine people who want to help make life easier and perhaps more pleasant for others.
The efforts of these amazing groups should be viewed as a hand-up, not a hand-out.
Imagine the possibilities of paying it forward. Many of the people who have come for a meal for themselves or warm coats for their children have never been in such a situation before.
Imagine the good that could come of 2021 if those who received ultimately became those who were able to give.