Following up on last weeks post on generational poverty and our new friends at Penny Appeal,I thought it might be interesting to further explore the cause, effect and hope for those who seem trapped in the challenging cycle of poverty.

Imagine if your childhood was bereft of basic opportunities, like participating in a sport, playing an instrument, or enjoying trips to theme parks, summer camps, or the zoo. Imagine if your teenage years were devoid of chances to take art classes, eat out with friends, and even gain basic proficiency using a computer because you lack reliable internet access. Having considered these possibilities, one might begin to imagine how generational poverty affects your capacity to focus on a good education, earn a college degree, construct a good resume, and have affordable transportation.

Families that experience generational poverty are distinct from those who might experience situational poverty. The distinction is important since situational poverty might affect any of us at any time considering that the vast majority of people living in the United States have a very negligible amount of money saved. Situational poverty happens when we lose our jobs, lose family support, or experience added expenses and unexpected problems in life. The main difference between this issue and that of generational poverty is that the latter typically includes a sense of hopelessness since it is not a temporary setback.

Here at Trinity Cafe, we recognize that generational poverty restricts people’s prospects to hope for a brighter future and think positively on a daily basis. It restricts capacity to plan ahead for a new career or to save money for emergency situations, since these individuals are facing the constant need to survive and to ensure that family members and loved ones are also having their basic needs met. Generational poverty brings with it constant distractions from one’s career goals and it instills a belief that there is lack of control over the course of one’s life.

Our Executive Director, Mandy Cloninger, says that the keys to having a really good chance of escaping the cyclical effects of generational poverty include, “graduating from high school, waiting to have children until after the age of 23, and securing reliable employment.”  Ahmed Yousif of Penny Appeal explained, “Even here in America where you see the homeless population that is steadily growing, people want to be empowered. People don’t want to beg for money. A lot of people are looking to get a job”. The same exact thing can be said of our guests at Trinity Cafe, who are not looking for a handout, but rather, a helping hand or a connection to remind them that their neighbors care and encourage them by sharing a conversation with our volunteers.

We invite you to turn your thoughts on generational poverty and our neighbors in need, volunteer with us at Trinity Cafe in hopes of helping families that experience the difficult cycle of generational poverty.

Chad Radwan, Communications VISTA