On Assumptions, Poverty, and “Breaking the Cycle”

Hello! First, I’d like to thank everyone who has shared, donated, and messaged me since I uploaded the video about our crisis. I am so honored and overwhelmed.

Please know that my entire family is so grateful for everything you’ve done so far. I am moved beyond words by your support.

Several people have told me their own stories of struggle, homelessness, and poverty. It is because of them as well as my own family, that I felt compelled to write a response to the comment below.

I'm curious. I may ask a few questions but I understand completely that it's your choice to answer or not. I respect your right of privacy and will not demand a reply. First let me say, I am a single mom of 4. There's only about 5% father involvement. I've been on and off WIC, Food Stamps, Welfare, borrowed from church, borrowed from military relief, was without health insurance for 11 years, have lived with relatives, frequented food pantries, etc. During that time I was, and still am, suffering from 3 chronic illnesses and raising a special needs child. Also during that time I was always job hunting and seeking a way out of government support and handouts. My illness and care of a young special needs child kept me on and off assistance. Some questions are: What keeps your family receiving Section 8, etc? Is anyone in your house working or capable of working? Are you old enough to work? How does your family contribute back to the system supporting them? Tax breaks are synonymous with government assistance so I would assume you don't pay IRS at the end of each year but they are refunding you. I'm also assuming the children in your family have attended or are attending public schools. Public schools are also funded by government. How does your family support those citizens that are supporting them? I watched some of your videos. I note that I never had a computer or laptop while receiving government assistance. I never had money for bold red lipstick (note* it looks wonderful on you). I didn't have internet. My bedroom wasn't decorated and displaying numerous pretties. More questions: Is other family keeping you in WA? Why live in WA? WA is listed in the Top Ten states with the highest rent rates. Rent in coastal states continue to be the highest in the nation! I moved from CA to TN for this very reason. It's my guess (but I could be wrong) that everyone in your family over 14 has use of a cellphone. Assistance sometimes comes with health insurance also. You present yourself as a intelligent, well educated, visually put together woman. Remember, cycles can be broken anywhere in the chain and at anytime. Government assistance was designed to be a tool to climb a ladder. It's function should be the 1st step not the last. It also is not designed to fund a person/family over years at a time. I now work full-time and am off assistance since 2007. Many will hate on my comments and that's understandable. I had things to say and questions to ask but you have the right to refuse them and I will think no less of you (and I have very high regards for you & your strengths). Yes, I will be donating no matter what or whether you reply. I hope all funds you receive are helpful in achieving family needs and dreams! Best of luck!

My reply:

I am replying to your questions because I want to, not because I feel the need to justify myself or my family. Also, I feel like you are trying to be genuinely sincere. I feel like I answered several of your questions in this video and also in other videos.

I don’t really have the time to reply right now, but I also feel like a lot of the assumptions you’ve made are damaging not just to me, but many other people who have struggled and shared their story here with me.

My mother is a disabled veteran. My brother has a learning disability. I, as I have said, have a genetic condition that causes daily intrusive migraines. This condition also cause tumors to grow on my nerves. It causes daily fatigue and pain. It’s called Neurofibromatosis, I’ve made several videos on it.

My family receives Section 8 because we need it to afford a home. We are monumentally lucky to be a part of the program, even though finding a place is difficult right now, because Section 8 is such a valuable, helpful, and NEEDED program that they have a lottery every five years just to be put on the waiting list to apply.

I am twenty two years old. My health has been a problem for me since I was a teenager. I had to leave high school in 10th grade because my public school would not honor the 504 plan that would help me complete my assignments on time. I aced my GED.

That same school was bailed out a few years later because it ranked in the bottom 5% of the entire state. I am glad it was, because now that school offers a better curriculum than many local community colleges for my baby brother, who is on the track to Pre-Med. But that school failed me and dramatically altered my options.

I have done everything I possibly can to “climb the ladder.” Since I was sixteen years old, I have worked despite my health problems. I have been a barista, a nanny, a secretary. Until March, I worked at a daycare at a local church until my health required me to quit.

I am a good worker. I bought my camera at a pawn shop after saving up for months. I bought this laptop with even more savings and help from my friends here.

I am an intelligent, well educated, visually put together woman because I strive to be. Am I supposed to accept limitations and not aim to improve myself? I know I am a talented person. I’m sorry for the lack of humility, but I know that I can do great things.

I know that poverty and never ending assistance isn’t and shouldn’t be the end of my story.

You talked a lot about the things you didn’t have that I do. You’ve been off assistance since 2007. It’s nearly 2017. It has been a decade. My family did not have cell phones, a nice computer, or reliable internet in 2007.

However, it is incredibly unrealistic for children over 14 not to have a cellphone nowadays and they are leagues more affordable now than they were ten years ago. We have internet, but we don’t have cable or even a landline. We don’t go out to eat, we very rarely buy clothes new and never name brand, we go to the movies once or twice a year if we’re lucky but most years we don’t go at all. We prioritize the internet over any other luxury.

You have a lot of assumptions and comparisons in your comment. You commented on my wall decorations.

The only “pretties” on my wall are things I have made myself. I painted the cork board in the background of my older videos. I designed and printed both of the prints on my wall. The only things on my wall that I didn’t make are the fairy lights. My mother even made the red shelves on my wall. I painted them.

For all you know, my pretty red lipstick could be a $3 tube from Walmart. It’s not. It’s the first nice, fancy piece of makeup I ever bought myself. I bought it as a present to myself for going back to school after spending a month in the hospital. It made me feel pretty and confident when I had no strength at all.

You didn’t mention it, but I am assuming you’ve also assumed about my Vegas trip.

I’ve volunteered online for Leviosa, the event I attended there in July, for the past two years. I was only able to go because I saved every penny from my previously mentioned daycare job and was generously gifted a ticket by a fellow volunteer for the convention who was no longer able to attend (she found out she was expecting and her baby was due the same weekend!).

Before my health got bad, I worked hard. I paid my taxes and if in a position to, I will happily pay them again. I love my country and my community and I will do all I can to support them.

I am incredibly grateful for the people and services that have helped me. I enjoy volunteer work. I enjoy helping others. I am a passionate advocate for at risk youth programs like those that have helped me better myself, and reading programs.

My god, I would love to break the chain of poverty. It’s all I’ve ever tried to do.

I know WA is one of the most expensive places to live; I’ve lived here my entire life. It has excellent assistance programs, but it does take a lot to pull yourself up by your bootstraps to pull out of them. Our rent rose $300 and our food assistance was discontinued when I got financial aid from my school, even though that money was specifically earmarked for tuition and supplies.

You have to make a lot of money to “break the cycle” even when you’re trying to better yourself (like going to school).

How am I supposed to afford a cross country move when I can’t even afford rent here? It would take thousands of dollars to move to a place where we have no friends or connections or any guarantee of sustainability.

We have no family here, but our extended family is not supportive or in any position to help. We do have friends here, like my 22 year old friend who just bought a house with her husband, who offered to let us park our camper in her driveway.

Don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly grateful for the luxuries I have. I am even luckier to have a family that supports and believes in my ambitions. I know there are many people with much worse.

I hope this move doesn’t take away the nice things we do have, but even if it does I will still be lucky and happy to have my family even if I have nothing else.

I have asked for help because I want to be in a position where I can help others. I am not looking for charity. I am looking for opportunity. I am asking people to trust me. I am trying to “break the chain” so I can help others do the same, but it’s a pretty durable chain and I’ve been shackled to it my entire life.

Join my newsletter!

I send out emails once a month. Subscribers have first dibs on all news, exclusive giveaways, freebies, sneak peeks and more!
Email address

3 Responses to On Assumptions, Poverty, and “Breaking the Cycle”

  1. Lily, you mentioned in your blog that your mother is a disabled veteran. If she has not already done so or even if she has, couldn’t hurt to again, have her reach out to the American Legion Post #2 off of Lafayette and Park . They often have assistance or resources to assist veterans. Ask to speak or meet with the service officer. I am not sure if your mother has an active service connect claim, but they can assist in preparing and submitting one if not. Anyhow, good luck to you and your family and my hope is that you all find a permanent place to call home soon.

  2. Lily, you were good to respond. Me? I wouldn’t even have given her the satisfaction of a response. As you said, you didn’t owe her anything. If she didn’t want to donate she didn’t have to but to passive-aggressively rake you over the coals while claiming that she was once in the same boat was horrendous. You suspect she was being “genuinely sincere”, I’m convinced she was concern trolling. Bully for her that she had a similar story and managed to improve her lot. (If you believe that, I don’t). But either way she isn’t you (and I suspect she isn’t half as intelligent, funny or sweet as you seem to be) and she hasn’the walked in your shoes. Next time people like her try to “come for you”, I suggest you tell them to f!@#$ right off!

  3. Lily, I think you’re my new hero. You just responded with grace and clarity to a set of questions you should never have been asked at all. Why do people assume that because they got a break and things got easier for them they should somehow be easier for everyone else now? The older generation (I am 30, but even older than me) do not seem to get that a phone is a necessity for work, looking for work, and just life these days. The thing that reeeeeeeeeeeeally wound me up about this was the “why don’t you move” comment. People are always saying the same thing about benefits claimants in London and other more expensive areas of my own country. There is simply no justification for saying people should be forced to leave their networks, family, friends, instead of being given a little help (and it is usually such a pathetically small amount of help) to get on their feet where they are.

    I also love how this person doesn’t seem to get that your creativity, not wealth, is the reason why you are your room look good. Some people are just better than others at making more out of little.

    My family has been homeless July 2016 because of my husband’s difficulties with immigration here and the new laws put in place by the conservative government over the last five years. We followed the law, the government did not, and we were forced to give up our house, my husband’s job, and leave the country with our 6 month old. We’re back now, but it has decimated out finances and done serious harm to his day job career, and put us in debt. We have needed help. A lot of help. You wouldn’t know any of this to look at this though. People think they know you well enough to see that somehow you’re cheating the system, taking more than you should take, but they don’t know shit.

Leave a reply

Join my newsletter!

I send out emails once a month. Subscribers have first dibs on all news, exclusive giveaways, freebies, sneak peeks and more!
Email address

Join my newsletter!

Email address