Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hand out help up or how not to be an asshat

I was on welfare. 

There. I said it. I'm a mother to two wonderful boys and happily married to a hard-working man. And due to circumstances beyond our control, WE were on welfare. I'm not going to bore you with my "excuses". It just is what it was. 

I had Coach handbags. I had an iPhone. We had two vehicles. I have two tattoos. And yet, we were on welfare. 

I sold my Coach handbags to make ends meet. I saved one because it had sentimental meaning. I got title loans on the vehicles. We had to have two vehicles though. My iphone? Was a gift. And because I had it BEFORE, my data plan was grandfathered in and my monthly bill? Would've cost the same had I had a normal flip phone. But that iPhone was used to help find work. So, I wasn't about to give it up. My tattoos are at least ten years old. 

You may have seen me at Walmart with my Coach bag and my iPhone with my food stamp card. You may have clucked your tongue and talked shit about me under your breath. Let me tell you though what you didn't see...

You didn't see me cry at night because I felt demeaned in the first place to even apply. You didn't see my husband and I fight because he wouldn't go get groceries because he was embarrassed. You didn't attend my garage sales where I sold anything and everything I owned to try and make ends meet. You didn't see our Christmas in which my boys only received a couple things because there wasn't money for anything else. You didn't see how wonderful that Christmas was because we knew how blessed we were, how lucky we were. We were together and we loved each other. And we knew it could be worse in the grand scheme of things. We knew what was truly important. 

I'm working now and no longer on welfare. I still have that one Coach bag. I still have my iphone. I still have my tattoos. I'm the same person I was before save for one vital piece. I don't judge those on state aid any longer. It's not easy to ask others for help. It's not easy to acknowledge that you need help, and hope, to take care of your own family. But as a former social worker, I promise you there's more people on welfare that genuinely need it than those taking advantage of the system. 

I'm so fucking tired of those stupid ecards about those on welfare taking YOUR money. It's such bullshit. They're crass and just ridiculous. I wonder if those who post them have any true idea of what people like myself have gone through and suffered and sacrificed. I'm not sure when it became ok to be judgmental asshats towards those in need and it genuinely saddens me. But it also pisses me off. It just doesn't piss me off enough to wish it on anyone. 

So maybe, instead of judging, one can think of the whole hand out, help up adage instead. 

- Dawny Wendy


  1. thanks for this post. touches home...i used food stamps once, too. it was hard. but i think it made me a better person. thanks for sharing your story.

  2. We as compassionate humans shouldn't begrudge anyone food-- there has to be a safety net against hunger. I have no problem with my tax dollars helping people eat, or get through a period of unemployment, or receive needed medical care. More is spent on "defense and international security" each year than on safety net programs.