Who are the poor? Who do you picture when you hear that word?
Welfare bums. Women having babies to get welfare money. Someone buying steaks, which you can’t afford. Lazy young people. Drunks, addicts.
They’re a small percentage.
The reality: the poor are elderly, handicapped, ill, disabled, downsized after a lifetime of gainful employment.
Businessmen bankrupt through no fault of their own. Grandparents losing their homes because their children deserted their own. Mentally ill. Wives supporting their ill husbands. Brothers and sisters taking in their siblings and relatives. Sympathetic people taking in strangers.
My job at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Cupboard: Processing records and qualifications to make sure they get what they need, not to punish or catch malingers. We must observe government regulations. To be a responsible servant, to be like Christ to them.
It’s more than keeping records on computer. I give numbers for help in utilities, rent, clothing, furniture, diapers, food, paper products, gas to get to work or hospitals, free meals.
I try to be a cheerful caring face in a world of despair.
Children are most important. We care for their irresponsible parents so the children will be fed and warm — keep them alive until they can get sober and clean.
Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, never demeaned the poor in offering whatever service he could. Each man, woman and child was too precious for that. Serving the poor taught blessed Frédéric something about God that he could learn only there.