They Work Hard for Their Money

Day 7–July 10, 2009 (Mercersburg, PA-McConnellsburg, PA, 9.9 miles)

More than a few times I have heard comments suggesting that poor people, homeless people, are lazy; that they don’t want to accept a job at McDonalds or take some other minimum wage job; and that they don’t want to work. I don’t know where those people are. I certainly have not met them. I have, however, met a great many people who work incredibly hard to make a living and struggle to make ends meet.

There are many across the country who, having worked hard their whole life, are finding themselves suddenly falling off the edge of the middle class. Many have lost their homes and their jobs. But many others never had a good job or could even dream of having a home to lose. In 2007 some 37.3 million Americans were living in poverty ($21,203 for a family of four.) I cannot say I have met a great many people living in poverty. But I have seen those living on the edge. They work hard–and they have been the first to offer me a hand or to pull $5 from their wallet to help me on my way. It would do no good for me to tell them, “but I am walking for you.” They are proud of their hard work, glad to offer me any assistance I require. One man had tears in his eyes. It made me proud of my journey, proud to be among people inspired to make things better and to readily willing to help those more in need.

– By Jennifer E. Cooper