Kandace with a K
I met Kandace a little over a year ago through a person we both know, we quickly hit it off and became friends. It wasn’t until I had known her for about 6 months that I realized how young she was, because she’s lived a life of experiences that I, in my late 30’s have never had. She has wisdom and a view of life that you would expect from someone many decades her age. She is what I like to call “the 3 F’s”: feisty, fierce and a fighter.
She naturally embodies the 3 F’s; however life and the circumstances that she has found herself in, have heightened those attributes in her, because she’s often had her back against the wall and has had to fight so hard to provide for herself and her young child.
Kandace is a single mother, of the most incredibly loving, generous and intelligent child, which isn’t by accident or happenstance. Her child is these things because Kandace is these things, even as she struggles to provide the basic necessities of life for herself and her child. Even as Kandace herself is in need of assistance from time to time to keep the lights on or to pay for car repairs so she can continue working, she is more often than not on her Facebook page sharing information and asking for assistance for others and taking care of their needs, as she puts their needs above her own. Since I’ve gotten to know Kandace, I’ve come to know her as a master couponer who is able to squeeze $30 worth of groceries out of 4 coupons and $7.00. I’ve seen her work 50+ hour weeks back to back with her job trying to “get her head above water” and put a little money into savings. I see her contacting government agencies and social service providing organizations and receiving little to no help or being told that she has to wait until her situation is worse before they can help. I’ve watched her go without so she can provide a cake and birthday gifts for her child to help them have the comforts of childhood that many of us take for granted.
This year, at The One Less Foundation our theme and project for the year, Stand In The Gap – is highlighting the ways that we as individuals and as a society can help those that are in poverty and help underserved communities build paths out of poverty. We want to share the first hand experiences of someone living in poverty, and the real struggles they have as they try to work with an ever disappearing social safety net due to government funding cuts, the stresses of poverty, and finding those small glimpses of happiness in the midst of extreme hardship in the land of plenty. The advocacy work we do at The One Less Foundation is geared toward protecting the most financially vulnerable and ensuring that they are not taken advantage of by private and public industry, and that they have access to resources that can and do help them.
Kandace has agreed to chronicle her life and journey this year with us for our blog in a series called ‘Life on the Edges”, so the rest of us who are able to stand in the gap, see through her eyes, why it’s important that we all step up and #StandInTheGap, for the millions of households like hers, that struggle to provide the basic necessities of life, in a country where we have excess and beyond.
We live in a land of plenty, where we have more than enough to feed every child in America, yet 1 out of 5 children go hungry on a regular basis (that’s app. 16.2 million children). We live in a land of plenty, where we have more empty housing than we can fill, yet there are 3.5 million people who are homeless when there are 18.9 million empty homes. We live in a land of plenty, where adults can work 40 hours (and more) in a week and still not afford to keep a roof over their head, food on the tables and pay all of their bills. We live in a land of plenty where this shouldn’t be reality for anyone, yet it is for the 43.1 million Americans who live at or below the official poverty threshold, like Kandace.
Personally, I am honored to have Kandace as a friend, and as an organization we are grateful to her for her willingness to share her personal story with us and with you.
We ask you to keep up with our blog series “Life on the Edges”, and follow this personal story that Kandace is allowing us to view up close, as she shares an inside view of her life with us, and shows us why we need to #StandInTheGap.
Lastly, we are asking you to #StandInTheGap because we can change this reality for millions of Americans who are our family members, neighbors, coworkers and yes, even strangers. Together we can #StandInTheGap so others, who are real, and full of hopes, dreams, and emotions like the rest of us, don’t fall off the edge. Together we can #StandInTheGap so they can create paths out of poverty.
~ Ingrid R. Shepard, Executive Director, The One Less Foundation