In a week filled with news about the Affordable Care Act and government shutdowns, it seems appropriate to step back for a moment and look at the bigger picture of all of this.
Regardless of your feelings on the Affordable Care Act and whether it’s a law that should stay on the books, as a program, it provides access to health care to some people who would otherwise be unable to acquire or afford it. There are drawbacks to that, and it’s the drawbacks that have people in an uproar, but the program is well on its way to providing that benefit to people.
This is on top of countless other government services out there, like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, and the many national and local groups out there providing help to people, like Habitat for Humanity and local food pantries (which do amazing work, by the way).
If you are in a situation where you cannot afford to pay your own bills, society has a lot of hands out there that want to help pull you up.
Around here, virtually every community has a food pantry. Our local one is run by two extremely caring people who devote a ton of their free time to making sure people have food on their plate regardless of their situation.
There’s a Habitat for Humanity house being built about three blocks away from me. The family moving in there is one that’s been struggling to get a foothold for a long time and this house is giving them an opportunity in this world.
There’s a local church that has a free dinner every Wednesday for anyone who wants to show up. There’s a free will donation, but most of the members of the church put in double what’s requested so that other people can eat without cost. I hear that there are other organizations that also have similar dinners.
I have family members on Social Security for retirement and Social Security for disability purposes. I know others who utilize Medicare and Medicaid in order to receive health care.
Beyond these things, there are countless community programs that provide assistance and resources for free. The library. The park services. The recreation services.
Yes, there are always some people who mis-use programs like this. They use them to simply perpetuate life choices that will not allow them to move beyond their current situation.
If you’re reading this article, I sincerely doubt that criticism applies to you. In fact, it’s the people trying to get ahead and struggling to get a foothold that are the poster children for these kinds of programs – and if you’re reading The Simple Dollar, that probably describes you.
If you’re in a position where you’re truly struggling to make ends meet, don’t be ashamed to let society’s hands help you a little. When you’re in a better position, you can pay them back with donated time and goods and, with government programs, with your tax dollars.
Society’s hands are out there, waiting to help lift you out of whatever situation you find yourself in. If you’re finding it a genuine struggle to make ends meet while getting all of your bills paid and not sinking further into debt, never, ever be ashamed to get a few meals’ worth of produce from the food pantry or eat a free meal at a local church. Never, ever be ashamed to sign up for SNAP or other such government programs until you’re on more stable footing.
Don’t lose what you have because of a misplaced sense of pride. Instead, take pride in the fact that you’re doing what it takes to get ahead and move upward from your situation. Take pride in the fact that you live in a community and a nation that provides such opportunities for people who want to survive and thrive.
Make that choice.