What have you learned from your first-hand experience about poverty here in the City of Rochester and how has that affected you?
Bonjour tout le monde,
As VISTAs we not only witness the effects of poverty first hand through the people we serve but also we experience it first hand ourselves.
So my experience…well I definitely have felt like I’ve been on a crazy roller coaster ride for the past 6 or 7 months. Living on the level of poverty is emotionally and mentally draining. With living off a stipend of less than $800 a month and having to pay for your rent, utilities, internet, food, and gas, well cheap becomes your middle name. You begin to learn ways on how to conserve your money, like applying for food stamps, becoming a coupon mom, carpooling or emailing companies and telling them that their product disappointed you so they send you free coupons (yes I did do that…don’t judge). Let’s face it I’m poor. I can now say that I have gone a day or two without eating, I’ve worried that my car wasn’t going to start because the gas tank was on E, but how can I can complain…this is what I signed up for. Yes, it is true that somedays I just want to quit what I’m doing, find a normal job in the field that I studied in college, and live an average life, but I was never just an average person or a quitter. I have gained far more respect for the people who are experiencing situational poverty and generational poverty. I also gained more appreciation for all the opportunities I have been given during my life growing up, that I know that some of the people in the Rochester community will never have the chance to experience. I also give props to all of the youth who are growing up in poverty, and realize that there is more out there and realize that they control their own future.
So I guess in the end, even though this experience is a roller coaster ride of emotion, it definitely is worth it. Who else can say that they voluntarily lived on the level of poverty? Only us AmeriCorps folk.
peace and love,