Shame: Coming to a Welfare Office Near You?

Erin Odom used to quietly wonder about people who took government aid or “welfare.” That is, until she and her husband–who had 3 college degrees between them–found themselves applying for government assistance.

That’s when Erin, who grew up in upper middle class America, got a firsthand introduction to what it’s like to live in poverty.

Yesterday, Erin told her story on the Truth or Dare Podcast.

And it was hard at first, she confesses. In fact, when she first applied for government aid, Erin did everything she could to hide the fact that she was receiving assistance.

Shame: Coming to a Welfare Office Near You

For Erin, applying for assistance at the welfare office near her was intimidating. It was so shaming that she felt the need to defend herself as she applied. “This isn’t how I was raised,” she explained to the intake workers who took her application.

When checking out at the grocery store, it was the same feelings of failure all over again. Erin continued to explain her situation, time and time again, to try and prevent the cashier from judging her as she used her WIC card–the modern day equivalent of food stamps. “My husband is a teacher. He’s out of work. We’re hard workers,” she said.

And if Erin saw someone she knew at the grocery store? She would just circle the store–not buying anything–so no one would see her purchase her food with assistance.

But through these experiences, Erin was surprised by how wrong some of her previous judgments were.

If you quietly (or not so quietly) judge those on government assistance, if you receive government aid yourself, or if you are teetering on the brink of applying for it right now, you will be encouraged by what Erin learned along the way.

She is friendly and upbeat, but disarmingly honest. And listening to her story feels more like sitting across from a friend at a coffee shop than researching the welfare system.

In this episode of Truth or Dare, Erin not only shares what she learned about the stigma surrounding those who receive government aid. But she reveals the message of her book,  More Than Just Making It, which encourages readers to rise above their circumstances and reimagine the good life outside the myth of the American Dream.

You can listen via iTunes, GooglePlay, or TuneIn Radio here.

Or click below to listen from your computer.

Listen now
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