Since moving to the city approximately one year ago any idea I had of what it would be like to live in Philadelphia has been altered. Like most people, I had a suburban mindset of how romantic it could be dining out, enjoying the arts, cultural affairs, etc. Not to say I haven’t experienced those things to a degree but I certainly did not know what was actually in store for me.
My name is Michelle, I am 24 years old, and I live in North Philadelphia. I first moved here to work for a non-profit. I was energetic and thought I could change the world. When I realized I was not going to accomplish that by knocking on doors and asking for money, I moved on. I moved on to a job I have not left since, making a wage I made when I was probably 17 years old living in the burbs. But its okay because I get by fine- I don’t have a family to support and my rent is obviously cheap. At one point I considered applying for government assistance. I thought-why not? I make little money and I pay taxes. I even went through the compass website and filled everything out electronically. When I received the information in the mail however, I was baffled at all the additional information I would need to prove my situation. Information from my last employer, electric bills, etc. It would have been shaming for me to retrieve all of it and I decided it was not worth the effort and if need be I could always ask my parents for help. So I proceeded to pay for all of my purchases at my local Cousins supermarket in cash-buying pasta, peanut butter and jelly, etc-all those good things that in turn caused me to gain weight. Funny how most people lose it when they move to a city (or at least I thought).
It is simply too expensive to buy all of the whole grains, fruits and vegetables it takes to maintain a healthy diet. Alas, I sidetrack. Watching the Witness to Hunger exhibit made me realize that while I may live in a poverty stricken neighborhood-I am fortunately not part of a statistic. But why it is so important for this documentary to be made is because there are many people-families-actual human beings-that are. I live near them-maybe across the street from them. The kids play in the park nearby and ride their bikes. I noticed pictures from the exhibit that are in my neighborhood. The Ice Corner grocery store is on my walk to the el. While these stores might be a place I grab a soda on my way to work, they are are a place where families are expected to feed themselves. And I don’t know how this is possibly unless the menu consists of cigarettes, soda and a bag of chips. People might say to those in need-get an education, get a better job. Well I have a degree in Video Communications and am still making peanuts-and its not for lack of trying. This film is important and I would like to volunteer as much of my time as possible because this is not about statistics, its about people.
-Michelle “the intern”