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Kendall Worth: What people tell me about being grateful despite their poverty and social isolation

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Thanksgiving holiday is coming up and again, just like other holidays people living in poverty are facing three days of being lonely and feeling socially isolated.

But, as this article will show, there is lots to be thankful for this weekend, even for poor people. The other thing is that when poor people band together amazing friendships can flourish.

Well, the main idea of the Thanksgiving holiday is to celebrate and be thankful for what you got in life.

So between summer and now I asked 12 different people who live in poverty, including some people I have written stories about in the Nova Scotia Advocate: despite living in poverty, can you think of anything in your personal life to still be thankful for?

We’re grateful even without a turkey dinner with all the fancy fixings

Here is what they said to me:

“Kendall, we are thankful for life and having the ability to some degree to look after our health, even though we live with disabilities and live in poverty, and even though we may not have the same turkey or ham dinner with all the fancy fixings that financially better off have on Thanksgiving Holiday.”

“We do agree that as income assistance recipients life is not the same for us as life is for financially better off people.  However, we can be thankful that we at least have a roof over our head, access to clean drinking water, access to food, and for some of us the special needs allowances we do receive from the Department of Community Services.”

Then they went on to say:

“We all agree that the allowance we receive from Department of Community Services needs to increase, but we are thankful for at least receiving that amount.”

And finally regarding Department of Community Services they said:

“What we feel we cannot be thankful for is the bureaucratic nonsense and systematic problems at the Department of Community Services.”

(As the writer of this story, I couldn’t agree more, because bureaucratic nonsense is nothing to be thankful for).

One more comment that was made to me by those 12 people I asked that question to was:

“Kendall, The other thing we feel we can be thankful for in our lives is the existences of the various drop-ins and soup kitchens. Even though we do not really enjoy using these services, yet these places do provide healthy meals and they create affordable opportunities for us to keep ourselves out of social isolation.”

“We can be thankful they exist.”

Some good news!

Readers may remember this story I wrote about Kelly (not her real name) who had a job but had trouble making ends meet for a wage just slightly above minimum wage. This Thanksgiving Kelly also has something to be thankful for. She is now getting $16 per hour at her job, a $4.00 raise since I reported on her last. She is thankful for that and this Thanksgiving plans to celebrate her raise.

And then there is this.

Over the summer months I made arrangements for four different people I had written about in the Nova Scotia Advocate to have an opportunity to meet each other in person.

These are the stories these people were in:

I made arrangements for all four of these people to meet because they all have four things in common.

  1. All four have invisible disabilities.
  2. At present they are all working. Three of them part time. One person is now working full time.
  3. They all live life with a feeling of social isolation.
  4. They are all on income assistance and do not enjoy living life dealing with bureaucratic nonsense and systematic problems.

Anyway, since summer these four women got the opportunity to get to know each other. Then they became really good friends with each other.

Also, they found a solution to otherwise being alone by themselves for holidays. Starting this coming Thanksgiving they are going to be spending the holidays together as a group. Their are doing this because they have each others friendship to be thankful for. These women have become like sisters to each other. They are looking forward to spending time together.    


Kendall Worth is a tireless anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.

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