Judging Others Until in Need

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, former aid recipient

Those two years on Food Stamps were two years of hell psychologically because I thought only losers were on Food Stamps. The toughest thing was using the Food Stamps at the grocery store. Being on Food Stamps made me more accepting of those on the program. I was in school and working, and I could pay all of my bills except groceries. I was still judgmental, though.

Using Welfare to Succeed

The American Dream is keeping your nose clean, working hard, staying out of trouble, and making an honest and intelligent effort. Doing so is rewarded. I’ve had the American Dream. I started with nothing and was on Food Stamps. I became successful and have done many things. I am not wealthy, but I am comfortable. I am happy with what I do. I am successful—however you define success—doing pleasurable things and experiencing life. Success is getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down.

I read life stories of successful people- they’ve had a number of setbacks and troubles. I don’t like the word failure- it’s just a setback- you get back up again. Don’t look down on people’s setbacks because we all have them. I don’t like when people don’t get back up. Welfare has made it too easy for people to not get back up. I like to support people to see the results.

“James” is a financial advisor and former aid recipient. He is Caucasian, aged 60.  He shared these stories with Elon student Jessica Elizondo in October, 2012 while sitting next to each other on a plane.

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