I am the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk, quietly asking you for a dollar, a quarter, anything; however, you ignore me as you always do when you walk past.
I am the woman sitting on the bus with two black eyes, bruises and too many children to feed; whose eyes you cannot meet, whose story you don't want to hear.
I am the crying child torn from the arms of her mother by a government worker due to a misunderstanding you would never understand.
I am the neighbor who is an oddity in the community, whose house is rundown and yard left in disorder; whose family hasn't visited or called in months and seems to have forgotten.
I am the teenager who has made one bad decision after another, who's been given second, third and fourth chances to redeem myself only to end up doing what I do best: make bad decisions and repeatedly fall out of society's grace.
I am the husband who has loved a child as his own, even though she wasn't; the husband, who has been walked on, trampled over and left with only the footprints of pain as a friend.
I am the person who is intellectually disabled shopping at the mall; oh, you know me. I'm the one you avoid coming within 30 feet of because you might "catch" something; little do you know the only thing you would "catch" is my contagious smile and love of life.
All of these are me; the face society so easily forgets, the face society doesn't want to acknowledge, the face society can't or won't try to understand; the face of the poor.
Poor of money
Poor of spirit
Poor of family
Poor of health
Poor of an advocate
Poor of being cared for
Poor of a life worth living
Poor of being loved
Poor of being
Simply ... poor.
Laura Stainbrook is mental health residential program director for Mercy Behavioral Health and has worked in the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System for 25 years.