Healing Trauma and Solving Poverty

I come from the trailer park and now spend countless hours helping families move out of generational poverty and into the middle class.

There’s plenty of discussion to go around about the topic of poverty. Oddly enough, there is a great deal of talk and research, but it seems society has a difficult time truly helping people walk completely out of poverty. Which is why I believe I have encountered and now cultivate something very special. In the past 7 years I have brought myself and three sons completely out of poverty and have helped countless families do the same. Lives changed forever.

The most powerful part of the process I use are relationships. Relationships between generationally poor and generationally middle class people. These relationships turn into friendships and these friendships become transformation.  

Which is what intrigues me most about the Trauma-Responsive movement. It is  wired around healing and empowering and connection. Around relationships. Relationships are Resilience. When I first encountered Jane Stevens, https://acestoohigh.com/about/ , at a conference, she said something profound in her training:

“When building the trauma framework with communities, the fundamental practice is that we approach the community by saying, what do you need us to know, and what do you need from us — versus, outsiders, who have never experienced the problem, coming in with all kinds of solutions they have conjured up from observing.”





She may or may not have known that she struck a strong chord with me, as this is the cornerstone of the way I set the table in my projects for people to engage and start their journey out of poverty, out of the trailer park, out of the chaos.


You see, when I first bumped up against the poverty resolution project in my own community, I was pretty beat up. I was living in a trailer that should have been condemned, with three little boys who were struggling at the hand of my deficiency as a mother and I knew it. Poverty was my code and it drove every single aspect of my existence – good and bad. I was exhausted and everyday I experienced varying degrees of powerlessness and overwhelm.


Not to mention the shame.


I drank shame straight from the jug on a daily basis. I was failing as a mother. My love for my sons was fierce, but my ability to parent was in short supply. So, the first night I wound up at the “class to get people out of poverty,” I was both suspicious of the middle class presence and terrified of being judged. The facilitator took me and about 7 other moms into a room and the first thing she said to us was this, “We see families struggling in our county and we think poverty is the root cause of it and we want to solve it. And we need people, like you, who are living it to tell us how to do it.”


Those words Changed. My. Life.


Nobody from the middle class had ever once asked my opinion about what was going on down at 90 degrees below the poverty level.


The other most remarkable piece about that statement was this:

For the first time in my 3 decades in this small rural community, I heard someone say, “We see you now. We really see you and we are sorry and we want to know how we can help.”


Asking and Responding.

Instead of Reacting and Telling.

What happened to you?” Instead of “Why do you do that?”


Shortly after this encounter, my life started ramping up toward what I consider a miraculous transformation from the trailer park to a powerful new life full of wonderful people and a material rich experience. Yes, I now have a home and a good vehicle and my kids do not know scarcity. Which is a wildly big deal.


However, the biggest deal, is I have a purpose. I have a community. I can contribute. And I can still be authentic and do not have to hide my past. My malady and calamity became my automatic entrance into the lives of countless new families as I speak their language and identify their own pain through my story. Though relationships and meditation, I have been healed of my past hurts. My ACE’s. https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/


This is so powerful.


AND because of this movement, I have been brought into an incredible canvas of possibilities as we all begin to push the language of love and resilience…as we begin to seek healing for ALL brokenness…as we begin to omit punishment from our innermost places. I believe with all of my heart that with the Trauma-Responsive framework, we can win.


Relationships heal people. Love wins. Community offers hope and purpose. These cherished stones are not built in isolation. They are polished from the ebb and flow of spending time with people and seeking ways to help them find their best selves and allowing them to mirror that possibility for own lives.


I am watching friendship after friendship form between people from generational poverty and people from generational middle class. I am witnessing resilience occur through this process. I am seeing single moms become the people they were designed to be. I am observing histories of trauma suddenly become springboards for transmitting deep insight to communities about how people end up on certain life courses. It is powerful to be a small cog in the wheel of communities and generations healing in rural America.


Never in a thousand lifetimes will I be able to repay the universe for where it has brought me. Never in this life will I be content to rest. I have families to build. Communities to heal. Lives to turn from at-risk to at-promise.

With this incredible life has come boundless opportunity and friendship. I have been blessed to be  part of a partnership with Jim Sporleder from the documentary Paper Tigers, https://vimeo.com/110821029 . We are hosting a conference together. The conference is designed to bring in all kinds of people for the biggest conversation of both healing trauma and solving poverty. I am keenly aware that trauma is not isolated to poverty. That it affects all of us. However, I work with countless families to help them walk out of poverty and they ALL have high ACE scores. Every. Single. One.

And I would add that poverty is its own special kind of ACE. For any of us who have hung around this movement, we know that trauma is not isolated to the ten ACE study indicators. It is so much more than that. When I train schools, I help educators understand that the two key components for trauma are powerlessness and overwhelm. I lived in poverty for 39 years of my life and I guarantee it is full of powerlessness and overwhelm.

And the beauty of this is, that to both heal trauma and solve poverty and truly transform our communities and institutions, we use the same resilience building frameworks.

Please take a moment to look at our conference. We are currently requesting proposals. We would love to meet you. The world needs your resilience building superpowers. #Lovewins