Well, that’s exactly what happened a couple years ago when I first saw a commercial about Noemi Flores, a middle-aged Hispanic woman who earned her 20-years-of-service badge from Walmart.

Standing in her bright, cheery kitchen holding a cup of coffee, Noemi talks about darker days in the 1980s, when she was on welfare and raising four kids on her own. Then she started working for Walmart and things in her life started turning around, she says, “almost immediately.” She proudly recounts the day she wrote a letter to the food-stamp office and told them she wouldn’t be needing their help anymore. “I knew that the more I dedicated [myself], the harder I worked, the more that it was going to benefit my family,” she says. With tears of pride in her eyes she shows us the home she bought and then introduces us to her handsome son, Mario, who now also works at Walmart. “I believe Mario is now following in my footsteps,” she proudly tells us from her front-porch steps, her arm around her son.

Noemi’s story beautifully captures the power and dignity that comes from hard work, self-reliance, and earned success. She used the government’s safety net as it was intended — as a temporary measure. Indeed, one of the least-talked-about dangers of our ever-expanding entitlement culture is that it threatens the viability of these necessary programs for those who genuinely need and use them as a bridge to a better life.