As a relatively new member of the below-poverty line club, I still catch myself thinking like my old privileged self. I still assume there are certain basic necessities one “must” have at all times to be “secure”, and spend too much mental time strategizing how to maintain adequate stores of those items to get me through.
I can’t just jump in a car and go to stores, even if I had much discretionary spending money. Once I’ve paid the rent and whatever utilities I’m not (thankfully) getting assistance for, I have to conserve the small remainder until next month’s limited income deposits. And hope no unforeseen emergencies come up.
I’ve gotten very good at salvaging, reusing, and stretching every last thing. I don’t need entertainment, other than reading, watching shows on my laptop (courtesy of family memberships), and creating gifts out of almost thin air. Oh, and watching my indoor plants grow. (Hort/Bot folks will get it.)
Then I remind myself just how privileged I still am, as we head into a scary winter deep freeze, with temps and wind chills falling to Antarctica. As deathly afraid I am of winter and freezing, I have a roof over my head, heat and hot water (so far), food, water, and clothing to get me through it, and a few family and friends not out of town for the holidays I could call in an emergency. Unlike the many unhoused in STL.
I worry about the unhoused under the best of weather conditions, but to be out there in sub-zero temps with wind chills of minus 25° or more, and snow or ice, is dangerous and potentially lethal. The good non-profits here in STL and elsewhere are working their hardest to address the lack of shelters and assistance, which the city is failing to provide, but it’s never enough. No human should be subjected to such sub-human conditions, no matter how they got there.
If I had extra money to share, it would start with the unhoused, because I know just how easily anyone can find themself there. It frustrates me that though I can just about take care of myself, with some appreciated help, I can’t help others. Then I watch people take everything for granted, assuming there’s more where that came from. It’s understandable from my old POV, when I didn’t worry too much about money, but now it baffles and concerns me.
If you’re reading this and have extra funds to donate to a good cause this winter, please consider reputable local non-profits in your area providing shelter and relief to unhoused people. Imagine yourself out there, through no fault of your own, and no one to turn to for basic human survival. If I knew one person was moved to help other humans because of something I said, it would be the best gift ever. If you have done so already, and I know some of you who have, thank you!