I say this because there are levels of poor and you are treated based on that level.
Temporarily poor: lost your job, looking for a new one.
Living paycheck to paycheck: could be solved with a budget (wish I could turn back time)
Living great, paid for by the gov't with no guilt: I think the description says it all. These are the people who really could work but don't because then they'd get less free stuff.
Educationally poor: grew up in a hard life. Had to make money at a young age to help support the family. They actually struggle to make things work, education had to wait.
Mental Illness sufferers, extreme: some people with mental illness just can't life very well. It might have been a lifelong problem, or they took too many hits over the years that they just can't life. It's not for lack of trying. A lot of these people are the ones who have a long history of job hopping, or do low level jobs because there is only so much space that can be taken up by trying to look like you're fine.
Homeless: No one loves them, but we all feel sorry for them. Genuine homeless, not the pretenders who panhandle instead of work. They usually live in assisted living homes or shelters.
Complete Poverty: first world countries have this, but no one "knows," we try to pretend that our country is just fine and we're on top of things. But we hide these families, shun the caretakers (deservedly so in most cases, but some genuinely just couldn't take care of the family) and then set up fundraisers and scholarships for the young and they get the best of foster homes or adoptive parents.
No one treats any level of poor kindly without motivation. Churches give food, the congregation feels fulfilled in it's generosity. Shelters allow homeless people a temporary home. Then they are put back on the street. The shelter is able to report a great turn over of residents moving out, making it look like its helping. Thrift stores sell discounted things. But where do these things come from? Donations. So, where does the money go? They have to pay people to help poor people. And I've been witness to employees putting back the "Good Stuff" for themselves to purchase. Building expenses, utilities, blah blah. I believe those are discounted or can be written off as a business expense. Volunteering. It's no longer a generous way to help our fellow beings. Recognition is always given somehow. You can write it off on your taxes and at your funeral it will probably come up in your eulogy. Criminals have community service hours, I bet those are not listed among the deeds done in life. There are teens who volunteer just because it boosts a class grade, or it looks good on college applications, maybe even a job résumé.
What are we doing for these people that is really useful to their specific need? I'm part of the mental illness crowd. I've been battling for sixteen years to be a successful person. I've made a lot of mistakes along the way. Some because I'm human, others because I just have no idea how to interact in normal situations. I'm awkward, clumsy, nervous. I have the outcome of all situations already completed in my head, and I just can't feel stupid or failing any longer. So I don't feel. Being that one of my biggest problems right now is that I've got no desire to clean or make real meals. I have even stopped faking happiness around my kids. I do take meds and see a therapist, but they're paid for help. If I jump off of a bridge my psychologist and therapist look like they're failing so they try to help, sometimes only discouraging the reaching out for help urge.
I appreciate the food donated to my family, and the money our church gives us for groceries in the spring, and clothes donated, clothes my mil buys the kids, even though she throws it in my face.
But what I really need is a person to come to my house and work with me all day. In my home. To show me problem solving, show me organization, and to do so non-judgementally. Advice rarely makes it past the giver's lips.
I live in public housing. I can't keep it together so I'm being evicted. My landlord has no clue how hard I've worked to always have the trash out and do the little cleaning that I do get completed. She sees me as lazy and unclean. She treats me like I'm less than her because I need help. Unfortunately she is in charge of my housing lease and holds it over my head like she holds my whole being and existence in her hand. And she enjoys it. Always condescending and accusatory, she calls my house dirty when really it's just cluttered. There is no dirty trash in the house. I admit my shortcomings, I'm mentally ill and need help before I lose everything. And all of the people available to help are looking down on those less fortunate.
I've exhausted all of my resources. I've lost all of my friends, and I'm pretty sure that my family has slipped too.