What was it like living in poverty? No one would dare ask me this. Maybe because the perception of poverty is that of struggle and pain, no one would ever want to ask you something that would only cause you feelings of pain.
But to me, poverty was a humbling learning experience. Poverty taught me gratefulness, compassion, and to stretch my faith. Poverty helped me see the good in people and in life. It’s because of poverty that I turned my struggles into successes.
I felt it was time to share a very, very small part of my experience living in poverty. It’s a small snippet of the downward spiral we encountered living in poverty and how we turned things around. And until you’ve lived a day in my shoes, you may never understand the utmost feeling of hopelessness a mother goes through living under these circumstances.
My hope is that after reading our story of what we went through, you will walk out into the world with more compassion to what others may be going through in life and feel a little more grateful for your own life. Because everyone’s going through something.
My Story of What It Was Like Living In Poverty (Circa December 2007)…
“Hi Herbie, this is Daisy Reyes. Is there any way you can help me? PLEASE? My kids have homework they need to do and I don't know where else to go or who else to ask.” I said.
“Okay, Daisy. I’ll come over. I don't know what it is you're going through right now, but I hope things get better.” Herbie said.
This was my plea to Herbie, the Maintenance Manager at the apartment complex we were living in when we lived in Dallas, Texas. I will never forget Herbie, because I had actually known him (Herbert is his real name) for many years before this conversation took place. Seven years before this call, Herbie and I were co-workers. And there I was on the phone crying and asking him for help. Crazy how small this world is. I just wished it were under different circumstances.
Herbie arrived at our apartment within ten minutes and removed the padlocks from our door. We had been behind on our rent, and despite numerous explanations and doctor’s notes of being incapable to work due to pregnancy complications – they needed their money and I completely understood. We walked into our tiny one-bedroom apartment and the lights were completely out.
“Oh, great. They cut off our electricity too!” I said. I turned to Herbie as he saw the tears filling my eyes and he left to go back to his car and after a few minutes returned with candles, flashlights, and a lighter.
“I know it isn't much but hopefully this will get you through the night until you can find a temporary place to stay.” Herbie said. It was the sweetest, kindest gesture that I will never forget.
We were locked out of our apartment due to non-payment. Our electricity had been cut-off due to non-payment. And soon, our phone was going to get disconnected due to non-payment. With just $3 left in our pockets and a negative balance on our checking account, we still needed to feed the kids dinner. The only thing left that we had going for us was hot water and enough gas in our car to get the kids to and from school for the next few days and for George to try and find work.
My children were confused, asking why they were doing their homework in the dark with flashlights and candles and why there was a padlock on our front door. We had a reason for everything, because we wanted to shield them from issues that were only for adult conversation. We told them we were trying to save money and to try their best to help us save by using flashlights and candles in the dark to do their homework.
That night was one of THE toughest nights of my life. It was the night I had lost hope, and questioned the existence of my faith. Thinking back to this experience ten years ago still makes me cry, it feels like it was just yesterday.
We were a young family with a baby on the way and living in poverty back then. I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is no feeling worse than that of hopelessness. As we started to get back on our feet, we searched for resources and places to get the help we needed at the time we needed it most. We began to feel hopeful again once the right people came to help us at the right time.
Thankfully, there was a nearby YMCA that offered scholarships to our children for activities like soccer and dance, as well as afterschool care. We wanted our children to live their lives like children should and to be able to participate in activities despite our financial challenges that we faced. We would have never been able to afford those types of extracurricular activities for our kids if it wasn’t for the YMCA.
The YMCA gave my children a glimmer of hope and a brighter future to look forward to because of their programs and caring staff.
I promised myself that WHEN we rise up again and are back on our feet, we would open up our home, serve others in need, and help be the change this world needs. We would give back and be a blessing to others, because others were a blessing to us.
And we did…we rose up from the ashes and overcame poverty. And today, our family helps contribute by giving back and serving families in need through church events and through charities locally in Las Vegas.
For January, JCPenney is helping me commit to my resolution of giving back by donating to a charity that I am passionate about…
I am so excited to announce that via our partnership, JCPenney is donating $9,000 to the YMCA, on behalf of myself and The It Mom team.
JCPenney’s founder James Cash Penney’s legacy of giving back to the communities in which his employees live and work is as relevant today as it was when he opened his first store in 1902. This commitment continues today as JCPenney focuses on building strong, vibrant communities.
I am so excited that JCPenney is giving me this opportunity to give back to an organization that helped me in my time of need. I encourage and invite you to help contribute to your communities by giving back! Go to www.ymca.net to find out how and to learn more about this amazing organization.
This is a sponsored post for JCPenney. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.