Whew… It has been an impactful 5 days of wearing the same little black dress. People noticed, people wanted to know more, people shared their personal story of living in poverty, people wondered if it was really the same black dress, people sent my data and articles, people were inspired, and people gave.
This morning I looked in my closet and realized this won't be my reality tomorrow. YET those I am advocating for do not and will not have this choice and many others that I will have.
At this moment, I have raised $887 – more than tripling my original goal of $250. I am so grateful to each person who donated to this cause. I am touched by your generosity and support. If you want to help, please donate here.
One of my donors shared that she used to live in poverty. And, I asked her how she got out of poverty. She said, “It started with a mindset change. I had to renew my mind about money.” She went on to explain that she was raised by a single, teenage mom and it was hard for them. Fast forward a few years and her and her husband bought their first house at the age of 25 (wow). It was not an easy journey for her. It was work. It was deciding she wanted more. It was stepping outside of her comfort zone and giving new ideas a try. It meant learning a new way of life.
Learning a new way of life can be EXTREMELY tough. I am living proof. I am so grateful to so many people who were patience with me and helped me break the mental cycle of poverty that existed well beyond my physical place. My little black dress meant more than a blog could explain. Growing up I was blessed with clothes. Yet because of my mindset, and fear of not having enough, I would keep clothes for years. Some I never wore or had only worn once. I kept them because I told myself, ‘what if’ I need it. I had kept my prom dress from 2005 until last year when I husband told me it was time to give it away. I had kept it so long because I told myself there could be an event I needed for it. Crazy thing was I always found a new dress for formal events. I kept the dress for 11 years because I was afraid of not having what I need. One of my dear friends challenged my poverty mindset with this thought, “What young girl could you have already blessed by giving it away?” The thought made me think, and continues to.
I also struggled with understanding the value of money. I had to learn there was a difference between thinking with a poverty mindset and being frugal. A fine line yet one worth learning because it can affect the career you chose, the person you marry, and life decisions you make.
This is just my story.
A poverty mindset can mean something different for each person you encounter. This is one of reasons why we must create sustainable solutions for those in poverty. Living in a constant survival mode can wear on you mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. I also encourage community leaders to have patience and grace when ‘teaching a man to fish.’ Yes, there has to be a want-to on their part, yet there also has to be willingness to walk through the process of a new lifestyle with the person desiring to leave poverty. It is not an overnight process.
I sat tonight sharing with my husband how this week has impacted and inspired me, and how I want to use my knowledge and motivation to help others. I told him that we must find additional ways for our young adult ministry to partner with those in need.
As a person of faith, I believe the timing of this initiative was perfect. I needed to be reminded that my childhood experiences have a place in where God has me now and what He has for me in the future. Do I know exactly what that is? No! But I tell you that I open and ready to go.
Why? I believe advocating for those who grew up like me is apart of my calling. I have run and won elected office, I have graduated law school and passed the bar, I have studied overseas … I have accomplished a few things I am proud of. And, they have been some of the best moments of my life. But, accomplishments have come to mean very little to me if they are not aligned with my purpose. Fulfillment comes with purpose.
As I end this week’s journey with you, I encourage you to dig deep about what participating, donating, or observing this initiative means to you. Poverty may not be the issue you are passionate about. You may not have been able to donate. You may not have been able to wear the same black dress for one week. BUT you do have a purpose that is tied to helping those around you. Find it! Pursue it! Keep learning! Stay strong! And, never give up!
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing me to share parts of my story, be transparent, and hopefully, inspire you to do your part in your community.
You can still donate here.