Poverty isn’t an us-versus-them problem

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Column:  Linda Lares, Coming Together

Upon being asked to write an article about poverty, I began to reflect on what exactly I would write. I came across a quote by John Green, which goes as follows “There is no them. There are only facets of us.”

Linda Lares


I could not think of a better way to envision the stitchwork of our society or as the quote states, “us.” Poverty is something that has and is still strongly ingrained in the patchwork of us. Poverty is a subject matter that continues to replay over and over again historically and currently. It not only plagues our communities but many places in this world we share. Whether it be visible or invisible, in my own life or in that of the family, friends or countless others I have had the opportunity to work with, poverty is something that many are struggling to overcome.

In our current times of socioeconomic distress it is easy to point fingers at whom we can classify as them. Living in a society that likes to label and classify, people seem to stereotype the poor as being lazy, not wanting to work, irresponsible and the list could go on.

However, from my experience working with various people who would be classified as them by society, they have and still continue to have numerous obstacles, barriers and challenges in theirs lives that contribute to poverty. Such factors as institutionalized racism, sexism and many more -isms, medical health whether that be mental or physical, divorce, loss of employment or teen pregnancy, just to name a few.

Although it is easy to ignore the realties of poverty and how it effects them, we as a human community need to observe and educate ourselves as well as each other of how we can rebuild the strong patchwork that creates the facets of us. I pay homage to the parents, grandparents and community members who give a hand-up not a handout to family members and complete strangers alike.

We are fortunate in our community to have resources that help to build and assist the many facets in our community such as United Way of Freeborn County and all its member agencies, Semcac, Salvation Army, Even Start education program, Head Start, area food pantries, Minnesota Workforce Center, Healthy Families, Mayo Clinic Health System, service clubs and the list goes on.

Again, thank you to all the unsung heroes who are doing a great job working to make a us community.


Linda Lares is the cultural diversity coordinator at Semcac and a member of the Albert Lea Human Rights Commission.