Thursday, February 21, 2008

Teaching Single Moms How to Fish

When told that a relative received $10,000 back in taxes returns last year and they didn’t even pay taxes, my pulse started to rise. When I was told that they then used their $10,000 to buy a Wii, a flat screen TV and a designer purse, my husband put his hand on my arm so I'd stop pounding my fist on the table. I wanted to hit something, especially since this relative lives in a nice home and receives food stamps.

I found a program that eases my frustraitions towards the broken welfare system, and breaks the cycle of poverty. People Helping People is dedicated to reducing the number of children living in poverty by teaching low-income mothers how to become successfully employed.

What I love about this program is that it's based in education, not in charity.

Many women in this program have felt that taking care of themselves and their kids is someone else’s job- be it a man, the government or a church. The PHP program teaches women that they are responsible for their own financial future. It gives women the knowledge, tools, courage, confidence and encouragement to start a career. The program combines workshop training, mentoring, coaching, employment referral services, business clothing referral services and more to help women achieve their full potential in the workforce.

PHP expects women to put time and work into their own success. It’s not a handout and it’s not easy. They don’t just write the resume for these women, they have to do specific things to earn the right to a professional resume, or to free business attire.

By helping a mom get off of welfare and build self-esteem through gainful employment, it then empowers her children- and this generational dependence on government charity is broken.

The reason I'm posting about this is that PHP is in need of female mentors. They have a waiting list of women that need help, and not enough volunteers. If you would like to volunteer with this program go to It’s a fulfilling experience to teach women how to fish, instead of giving them fish to buy flat screen TV.


Steve said...

Wait, when do they go fishing? ;-)

Paula said...


I am not sure if you remember me or not (I would be suprised if you do) but I am Natalie Kilgore Giddens sister, Paula. I lived with her, Heidi and Mindy for a year in the 191st ward. I love your blog and have wanted to post a comment numerous times. On this particular topic though, I feel very strongly.

I taught in a Title 1 high school for 3 years after graduating college. The population was very diverse: 36% hispanic, 34% black, 10-15% asian, 10-15% white (mostly eastern european). Teaching there had many challenges(and rewards). The challenge I faced the most was the mentality of "something for nothing". A majority of my students felt they were entitled to privileges with minimal effort i.e. passing a class, skipping out on discipline issues, doing work etc. For a long time I wondered why did they have this mentality and then I realized that this was being taught in the home (a majority of my students had diffcult situation at home) and in society. I felt a lazy, uneducated, sense of entitlement, generation was up and coming and it upset me.

That is why I am so happy to hear of this program that teaches indivduals to be accountable and responsible for their actions, along with the importance of a good education. Thanks for making this program aware to others. Sorry for the way long comment too.

Steve said...

I think you touch upon something that is beyond race, but is generational. For whatever reason, it appears that those that were born after 1985 have this entitlement complex. I think it stems from the generation of parents that raised them. Or maybe it's b/c they came of age when everything was instant gratification; 100+ channels, the internet, cell phones, text messages, all those silly online buddy pages like MySpace, etc. Maybe I'm just turning into and 'old' and bitter man, but you see it everywhere. But who knows, just maybe they will all grow out of it and be as 'productive' as the rest of us, haha.

Salt H2O said...

Steve- you made me laugh

Paula- thanks for the comment, I have a friend who teaches English in a very affluent community and deals with these exact same issues coming from the white kids driving their Land Rovers to school. Parents have been robbing their kids of the greates life lesson of all- if you want anything good in life you have to work for it.

I've read a number of articles about how this generation feels entitled to a 50k salary upon graduation and expects their employers to work around their personal lives. I find it hard to buy into our falling economy when I see so many jobs availble and just no one wants to work them. They'd rather stay home and collect unemployment because they are too good for the jobs that are available in the market.

Soon we're going to see an even bigger divide between the haves and the have nots- and the only difference between the two will be work.

Salt H2O said...

PS Paula, after checking out your blog yes I do remember you! Thanks for commenting.

Ben & Kimberly McEvoy said...

Kory, I have to disagree on one point I do not think of welfare as charity.

"What I love about this program is that it's based in education, not in charity."

I think welfare as handouts, which in my view is anything but charity. I believe it is the same cycle as "developing" south Africa for east India trade benefits, and poor countries that grow defendant on your support.

I know the statement was about People helping People, I do not know if you were arguing that on the flip side welfare is charity. I personally believe that is a hoax the democratic party just cant figure out is a lie.

We need a government that doesn't spend all our money catering to these people. We need a president that shows charity not waste and quick fixes that balloon into dependency . . .hmmm. guess I'll wait another 4 years for a president I am proud to vote for.

thanks for the post

Cameron said...

$10,000?! Holy crap. I've done returns that netted a good chunk of government tax credit handouts, but $10k...that's enormous.

Salt H2O said...

They live in Kentucky, where 'how to work the welfare system' is class given in the 8th grade.~

f*bomb. said...

You can get $10K back without paying taxes? AND get food stamps?
I want in on this program, 'coz it sounds AWESOME.

Allie said...

Several years ago, when my husband was working on his bachelors degree and we had a baby (or maybe I was pregnant, I can't remember). We were having a hard time paying all the bills. We owned our home (it was a decent house, but nothing super nice). I looked into food stamps and we were just barely above the income limits.

I think we got $4000 in tax return that year, which we probably used for something sensible (dang parents for teaching responsible use of money).

Maybe we should have lived in kentucky... We could have been sensible and frivolous with that much money.

I don't think there's anything wrong with helping people who are struggling, but I really like programs that teach people to take care of themselves. If only all programs could be that way.