Moms can make a difference
What if we made anywhere poverty resides a priority neighbourhood, and as part of the prioritizing, worked to empower all the single moms resident there. This would include all the women who currently struggle at two or three jobs a day, forced to leave their at-risk growing children for long hours at a time, fearing for them but needing to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
Some would be second or third generation welfare recipeints, mostly because we fail at our interventions, not understanding the women, not understanding their lives. Failure is not new to our systems which place more value on credentialism, on degrees, on job security than on life experience, but its the women themselves who carry the fault, the blame, when meetings with social workers don't turn their lives around.
A friend of mine, raised in foster homes and Children's Aid, said to me, No matter how many showers I take or how clean my clothes are, I always feel like I have cooties when I stand before my worker'. It's a class thing, pure and simple. Social workers look so healthy, their lives not riddled, as a rule, by abuse, by hunger and need, they are better educated, better dressed, they carry with them middle class values and judgements, which leaves women like my friend feeling shamed and silenced and judged.
No one is harsher than a disillusioned social worker, except perhaps a burdened taxpayer.
Having had the privilege and the responsibility to work with many women over the years, women who are constantly derided as lazy, as non-productive, I know the journey they've been on, I understand how much they want to regain the dreams of their youth, how they yearn to help their communities and themselves, but are denied, as they haven't been schooled academically, don't have a PhD or a MA.
If we really want to make an impact on this city, backing and employing women- insourcing- who've lived and escaped the life, role models and fighters, pathfinders who are mirror images of those still trapped, who can put out a hand and say this way to a better life, to more freedom, we can do this together. Moms banding together to offer each other support, to define the needs of their neighbourhoods, to direct the professional class of helpers on how they would like to be helped, not have someone's version of help thrust upon them.
Moms could recall their children from the shopping malls and pigeon parks, from alleyways where dealers do their business, from street gangs and other places where low-lifes congregate, these children who love their moms but are conflicted with negative feelings of shame and anger and depression. Hard to feel shame toward a mom who has found her place as a community leader, who implements great ideas, who has enough of a salary to feel and cloth and house her family, whose laughter they seldom heard, so harsh was their life.
Moms who could supervise their children at play, who could hold enrichment classes, who could open and staff community kitchens and community centres, and break ground for community gardens. Who could dare, in their numbers, to turn in those who profit from the sales of drugs to their kids. Moms who could heal neighbourhoods, uplift their peers, create really caring communities. It's just one thing, but what a difference it would make.