I don’t think it’s any secret that there are a lot of differences in America. But that’s a very deep conversation that we are not going to have here and now. Instead, I want to talk about something that many, many Americans have in common. A value of independence.
For a long, long time, the people who have resided here have been looking for their freedom, their independence. That desired freedom has looked very different at times. But that desire for independence is still there.
While often a good thing that drives personal development, social advancement, and equality, that sense of independence can also be a challenge to us. As a matter of pride, it can be difficult for Americans to take help from other people.
As we get ready to send our kids back to school, there are a plethora of events right now that are providing some of the items necessary for kids to have a successful school year. But should someone go to those events? Should we be taking that help? Or, rather, should we find a way to do it on our own and preserve our independence?
These questions can represent a very complicated situation.
In short, I’m going to say the answer to all three of these questions is “Yes”.
These programs exist for a reason. I get it. Sometimes, life just happens and we need some help. In my experience, those providing these programs do not look down on the people receiving help, but rather want to help them become everything they can be. These resources can be an absolute blessing for us when hard times hit and we simply cannot do what we need to do on our own.
“But wait!” you say. “Those three questions are an either/or situation, right?”
Well, not exactly. It is a philosophy that I have heard in a number of different places, but probably the most clearly from Habitat for Humanity. Their approach is that they provide a hand up, not a handout. Their assistance in providing housing is not meant to be just a freebee, but rather a bit of help in their families’ journeys towards greater independence and wellness.
So is taking help really ok? We can look at all of these different programs in the same way. If greater independence is a desire for you, you can certainly still be working towards your own independence and yet use these programs as a hand up.
If you didn’t have to provide school supplies for your kids, could you put a little money in an emergency savings fund?
One of our programs here in Sioux Falls provides socks and underwear for kids headed back to school. If you didn’t have to buy those items even just once, could you afford a tank of gas without using the credit card?
If you took advantage of a free meal, could you make a payment to reduce your burden of debt?
If you are struggling, debating between holding on to your independence and taking help, I would encourage you to look at the bigger picture. How are you going to look at that help? Perhaps in the short term, it feels like a handout. But in the bigger picture over time, can you use it as a hand up to get yourself back on your feet?
There are a lot of resources out there. If you are needing some help in terms of ‘things’, I would recommend you call 211 if you have a local office. They are often the hub for directing people to the appropriate resources. If you do not have 211 locally, try your local county services or Salvation Army. I have found them to be a wealth of knowledge as well.
If you would like some help creating a longer, more sustainable plan for your finances, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can be that hand up. We don’t have cash to hand out, but rather look at that bigger picture and help you create a plan to increase your financial independence. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at 605-330-2700 or by visiting our website.
Most of us do want to increase our independence. So, is taking help really ok? Well, sometimes a hand up can be an important part of that journey to independence.
written by Breck Miller, Community Relations Coordinator
images courtesy freedigitialphotos.net
LSS Center for Financial Resources
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