“Sitting together and listening to each other’s stories, judgment kind of starts falling away.”
The Rev. Lynn Smith-Reeve knows what it’s like to live in poverty. As a child, she grew up without financial advantages. Later, as an adult, when her husband became ill, was hospitalized, and entered long-term care, she raised their five children. Her family relied on financial support from the government to squeak by.
“When you are living in poverty, there’s this attitude you feel all the time that what you have to offer isn’t anything or of any value. You don’t fit well with middle-class people because they have a different value system. You think and live differently. You have a different set of hidden rules,” Lynn explains.
What’s different? “For one thing, middle-class people are oriented to achieve, to get promotions and education. Living in poverty, the orientation isn’t achievement―it’s relationship. Because it’s relationship that keeps people alive. It’s through relationship that you can find help when the world falls apart,” she says.
Facets of life are more closely connected, too. “If my car breaks down, it threatens my job, my home, so many different things. Whereas in middle-class life, things are a little bit more isolated,” Lynn says.
After her husband died, Lynn studied to become a diaconal minister.
Now, through her work at Bridges Peterborough, Lynn brings together volunteers from across economic spectrums. She just founded an innovative program called Bridging Teams supported through your generous Mission & Service gifts. The goal is to build understanding, open social and economic doors, and change the conversation about poverty.
“Sitting together and listening to each other’s stories, judgment kind of starts falling away. Middle-class participants gain more respect for how far others have gotten when the cards are so stacked against them. Low-income people realize that life for middle-class participants isn’t perfect and they have struggles, too,” she says.
For Lynn, the work is a culmination of her life’s experience and a call God has placed on her life, one that Lynn says you help bring to fruition by giving to Mission & Service.
“Thank you for giving to Mission & Service. You have had a huge impact on my life and ministry, and you continue to have an impact on the work we are doing. Thank you.”