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140515EPA poverty1I was sitting in my car at a red light recently, when a driver moving through the intersection rolled his window down and screamed an obscenity at a rumpled man holding a cardboard sign: “Get a job, you — !”

That man and the people who, forced by life’s circumstances, stand by the side of the road begging for food and spare change are frequent reminders of something we confront every day at Eugene Pediatrics — poverty.

It’s not only seeing children living and coping with poverty that upsets me. It’s a feeling that they will grow up without a key component for success — a vision of another possibility for themselves. I have a growing rage that I can do so little to help change the fate of these children and families.

This week, a little boy came to see me, and it had been too long. I saw him the day he was born, just like his siblings. Three darling kids. Their mother has struggled for all the years I’ve known her. I have seen her beaten, filthy, exhausted, frightened and assaulted by her boyfriend (but afraid to report him). I have also seen her happy, in love with her babies and hoping for a positive change in life.

We have laughed together, talked about her kids and discussed options for her. I know she struggles with drugs, alcohol and depression — they are her demons.