Melinda@CoActiveConnections.net; 1(503) 893‑8046
I was drawn to CoActive Connections because of what the organization represents: understanding and empowerment. Having grown up in poverty (and still fighting my way out), I never knew how this affected and shaped everything about me. It is hard to tease out the different things that make you…well, you.
I have worked on poverty-related issues my entire life, even as a child. I was one of those kids that started a trash club, recruiting my friends and neighbors to hop on their bikes with me and pick up neighborhood trash. They weren’t as excited about it as I was, so it didn’t last too long. I was also one of those children who created neighborhood petition posters to put up a stop sign, and to save the whales. I was one of THOSE kids, and I couldn’t say no whenever someone needed an extra hand or a volunteer.
But in the process of becoming involved with the organization, I began to learn things about me that I never quite understood before or even thought about. This is a common occurrence when people participate in our Poverty Awareness Training. You don’t quite know that you grew up in poverty until you learn about what it means beyond lack of finances – there are ramifications socially, physically and psychologically. One could say this about any experience.
But there is a reason why I am so adamant to not seek medical care when I am sick or injured. There is also a reason why I eat all of the free food I can, regardless of whether I had already eaten dinner. There is also a reason why I am only now starting to enjoy vegetables (they don’t all come in a can?). Before I can make ANY decision, I do a cost analysis. Even if it is as simple as going out to lunch. That decision doesn’t come so lightly to me, and I don’t think it ever will…and, well, I might enjoy budgeting a bit more than the average person. So that helps.
The ramifications of poverty can last a lifetime – and they can affect the way you live for the rest of your life. I appreciate how our training brings dignity and understanding around the poverty experience, making me feel more open and willing to share about something so private and personal. People should know about this. It is part of what makes me me, and it is a part of what makes other people around us who they are. So many of our neighbors are experiencing poverty today, and their experience, right now or in the past, will be shaping them.
When I am not trying to start trash clubs, in my “spare” time I love to travel, hike, play piano, photograph with film, and (try to) paint the world around me. I also have a habit of doing things that I traditionally don’t like or haven’t experienced, pushing myself to try and even like new things, like running. Now THAT’S hard.