Musings of an educator from Lawrence, KS. Obsessions include: Kansas Jayhawks, politics, women's rights, TV/movies, music, and books.


Something I’ve had to learn (and am still learning) in working with non-profits is to learn people’s stories before I judge them. I’ll give you an example.

There’s a man who rolled up to our old Just Food warehouse with a newer iPhone than I had (he had Siri), and a tricked out Ford Expedition…brand new. He said that his family was in need of food. I don’t normally judge people, but I’ll be totally honest here: I was. Bigtime. I asked some of the same questions that you did to myself. Until I heard his story.

His wife had been working for an office in Johnson County and had just been promoted to Office Manager. She was making $50,000 at the time of her promotion annually, and after this promotion was making $75,000. His job was making about $30,000. And they had three children. After her promotion, they wanted to do some things with their house, get a new family vehicle, and they could afford it…so they did.

Two months into her promotion, the company she was working for tanked, and she lost her job.

They owed $42,000 on a $33,000 car, and the refinancing of their house had them in the hole. They owed $175,000 and their house was only worth $150,000.

Logic would say — sell the house and the car. But if they did that, they’d still be in the hole by $34,000. So, they were having to find a way to make ends meet on his $30,000 salary with all that debt.

Believe me. The first inclination many have is to pass judgment. But we don’t know their stories. And trust me, if you did get to know their stories, they’d leave you just as floored as we are each day. It’s humbling and incredible for what these folks are going through to keep their heads above water. You should really stop by sometime. I’d love to show you around.

Jeremy Farmer, CEO of Just Food (Douglas County, KS food bank)

I think this is one of the best explanations of why you shouldn’t judge people who are receiving help based on their appearance. The material goods a person has doesn’t say anything about his/her financial worth.

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