Shoes for Jake
Thieves broke into the empty home of my son’s friend but only grabbed his shoes. Why? Nothing else was worth taking. The young man—I’ll call him Jake—was orphaned at twelve and moved in with an aunt in a rough neighborhood. He was regularly urged to commit crimes and use drugs, problems often endemic in underprivileged neighborhoods. He resisted. At eighteen, upon graduating from high school, Jake began working overnight in a factory. The bus ride took a couple of hours each way. He tried to move into the home he had inherited, also in a rough part of town, but a cousin who had been squatting there wouldn’t budge. Months later, Jake got him out. He wanted the place because it reminded him of his life with his parents. Today, at nineteen, Jake attends a community college and works overnight for a delivery service. His shift ends at 3 am. He often waits three hours until buses start running so he can go home. Jake is a kind, respectful, smart, funny young man. He’ll probably live on poverty’s edge for a long time, no matter how hard he works or how thoughtful his choices.Sometimes, we hear people in the media or in person say that folks in poverty are to blame for their lot. How easy is it to use that as an excuse not to help?