There are many things in my life that I am proud of, there are others that I am not so proud of, I assume that everyone out there can say the same thing. Yet, for the most part, my time in the social services sector has been a source of pride (the good kind) for me. Unfortunately, changes to our nation, these organizations, and how things are administered caused me to take a good hard look at what I was doing, and to determine that I was no longer able to participate in it.
I am a seventh generation member of a global 501.c.3 corporation, and was a sixth generation local leader in the same organization. My family has been helping those in need since the 1800s and my great-great grandmother was one of the people who came to America to start the work of that organization. I say this, not for kudos, but to simply establish that helping people to better their lives and to grow and become more than they were before is a part of my very DNA.
There is very little I love more than seeing a person grow into a fully functional and happy/productive member of society. Unfortunately, that is no longer the goal, and as such, I can no longer support the industry and/or its initiatives.
While I do not want to go into the full story, mostly because I do not want to drag the organization into the middle of this and potentially harm the good work that they do, I will allow it to suffice to say that my work helped to put over 300 people through a sheltering program that over 200 people graduated from. Most of those graduates went on to hold steady jobs, get married, start families, and do better in life than they likely would have without help. I treasure, greatly, these success stories.
However, not long after I left the industry, the program was shut down because it could not receive government funding. One of the biggest reasons? The program contained a church attendance requirement.
I will again spare the details, as they are largely irrelevant to my point, but the end result was this, I decided that if the government's position was that success did not matter, but rather political correctness did, then this was no longer the industry for me as most programs fail on private funding alone due to high social spending by the government. But, that is another blog article.
You see, the best programs that I have found, from multiple organizations, all contain some common features. Those features are:
1) Some type of work requirement, either internal or external.
2) Some type of spiritual (Church) requirement, either internal or external.
3) Some type of mental requirement, education, counseling and social work guidance.
4) A robust follow-up program, which includes church family, alumni family, and outsiders.
5) Job skills training that help people to find careers and not just jobs.
So if these are the things that successful programs all have in common, would you not think that these are the requirements that the government would put on their list to support? After all, if success in what matters, and it should be the ONLY thing that matters, then money should go where it has the most success. You might think so, but not so much.
If you place a work requirement on assistance, the government will deny you funding because the participants should be paying for it themselves. Even if they can usually only get minimum wage jobs and need to be saving money for their post program housing expenses. Oh, and if that work is internal, you will get pickets and raked over the coals by leftist activists as engaging in slavery. Nevermind that all program participation is purely voluntary.
If you force counseling, and want government funding, your counselors all need to be LBSW (Licensed Bachelor of Social Work) or higher. At the absolute minimum, the person overseeing the counseling must be. In order to get that license, however, you must sign a bunch of politically correct agreements with the state that prevent you from engaging with anyone about God or other things of a spiritual nature.
Oh, and if you require spiritual counseling? You are "proselytizing" and are not eligible for government funds.
The same holds true for church attendance, which cannot happen if you are receiving any government funds. You are not even allowed to "encourage" people to participate. You may have a church, and it may be open to program participants, but if they file a complaint of "proselytizing" against you, your government funding is gone pending an investigation and most of the time you will not get it back.
Which leaves you with only secular counseling, an alumni organization, and job training. This means that much of what makes these individuals a bad fit for society is not being addressed. They are literally eviscerating everything that makes these programs work, namely, that which might actually change the participant. Yet they do not care, results are not their priority. Their priority is the supporting of the "I'm okay / You're okay" politically correct culture that they have built.
Except it is not true. These people are not okay, and their inability to function in society to a point where they ended up needing sheltering proves it, but we cannot require things that force them to change their habits, their views, or their outlooks on life. This is because it is not about what works, but rather about what makes us feel good.
It feels good to give a man a fish, it is hard work teaching him to fish, and what if he does not want to learn? He would most certainly be happier if you just gave it to him. So the government requires you to do just that.
Why, however, would that surprise you? The government hands out assistance like candy and requires virtually nothing in return. Those "job seeker" forms that I spent hours each month filling out for people on social programs? When I called them for job interviews they were always conveniently unavailable, until the next time the same person came in wanting me to fill out the form for the next month. Needless to say I refused to fill it out a second time.
To many in the social services industry, giving a man a fish has become the gold standard. They content themselves with keeping someone breathing, while largely ignoring their responsibility to actually effect change within the person's life. I get all kinds of excuses, I have had this discussion far more than any other with many of them, but in the end, their desire to see people "taken care of" far outweighs their desire to see lives transformed or changed.
It is like they expect people to magically change because someone has been nice to them. That is not how it works. Providing for someone's needs without requiring changes is called enabling, not helping. I refuse to participate it in, it is not helpful, and ultimately, it is destructive for the recipient and their families.
Religiously, I know that turning to God is the answer, but since many will require a non-religious answer from me, let me give you this one, if you do not work on all areas of a person in order to change them, you leave a habit/lifestyle/thought pattern in place that will always bring them back to where they were when they needed help. That is why they are forever stuck in a cycle of poverty which becomes generational. No one helps them to become more than they are anymore.
But hey, why do we care, right? I mean, we get to pat ourselves on the back for "helping." We kept another person "alive" today, as if breathing is the ultimate status achievement. We get to go back to our comfy homes with HVAC, in our cars, to full refrigerators, and order take out because we do not feel like cooking. Who cares if they never get there, at least we "provided" for them.
No, I refuse. I will not play that game any longer. This is why government "helps" never help. They are hopelessly infected with the politically correct culture which renders them at best ineffective, and at worst, damaging. If we are not out to actually help people to become better, to live better, and to "survive" better, then I want nothing to do with it.
I'm not interested in congratulating myself for engaging in co-dependent behavior, and I have reached a point where I refuse to do so.
Yet, please do not misunderstand this article. Not once have I said that my heart for these people has disappeared. Not once have I said that the plight of these people does not move me. Not once have I said that I want society to give up on them.
No, then thousand times no. I just want for society to give a... darn... about them beyond the basic requirements of breathing and holding down a minimum wage job that will keep them breathing, maybe. Yet it will not, because to do so is to violate the PC directive that our country currently operates under.
Perhaps you could say that I did not leave the social services industry, but rather that it left me. Yet that is far too cliché for my tastes at present. So instead I'll drop the same truth bomb that I keep dropping:
The government ruins everything it touches, this includes charity work.
They always have.
They always will.