A little help lifts single mom, but she's one of many working poor
I just learned my Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits will be cut. Does the government know how hard it is to feed my family of two children as a single parent? I know people think poorly of me for being dependent on assistance. It was not my intention to be in this position. I got an education, met who I thought was a wonderful man, got married and had two children. I thought everything was perfect. Until my husband moved out of state and left me and the children to fend for ourselves. Many people ask me, "Didn't you see this coming?" I have to honestly say I did not. He was a good actor. I thought we were a happy couple. Then I found out he had a girlfriend at work. The two of them scammed their employer for money along with emptying our checking account and maxing out our credit cards. They left me to be held liable for the legal and financial mess they left behind. I work full-time at a low paying job that does not cover all these extra expenses I was left to pay. I worry all the time about not having enough to care for my children.
This week has been filled with assistance to people of all ages, from infants to seniors, and all ages in between. All have been in need of our caring and sharing. We have been addressing emergencies: electricity being disconnected leaving the elderly trying to survive in the dark, single mothers and children with their gas shut off, no heat, no hot water for bathing, no stove for cooking... People on the verge of losing their low paying employment, but their only place of employment, due to not enough fuel to get to work or unreliable, old transportation breaking down. Together, we have been there to help.
We have waiting lists for all assistance at this time. As always, the need far exceeds the amount of resources available. What is happening with our federal government? Do they seem to even care about the American people that work in this country every day to support their families, yet cannot earn enough to feed their children some days? I do not think they understand as they have not lived a day in the life of what is now the reality for over one-third of American citizens. Yes, over one-third of Americans live only one crisis away from poverty. One job loss, one illness, one loss of a spouse is enough to send them into a downward spiral of homelessness, hunger, loss of utilities...doing without daily necessities for survival.
The mother that wrote this letter was filled with shame that she had to ask us for help. Can you imagine her embarrassment as she shared the secrets her husband kept from her, the humiliation of not seeing his deception and financial abuse? This mother hung her head as the tears flowed down her cheeks. I am often asked why I do not take more pictures of what we do. This is a perfect example of why I cannot break the confidentiality of our charity recipients. We all know the mother is not guilty of any crimes, yet the mother works in the community, her children go to our schools and she does not want everyone to know the disgrace and shame she feels. After her husband left town his employer looked at her for the restitution of the crimes. After investigation they saw the husband was the one at fault. This did nothing to alleviate the shame the mother felt for his actions.
After talking with the mother for some time I was able to convince her she should not feel guilty or shameful. It was her husband's actions, not her own. She worked very hard to support her children and pay her bills. I had the mother call the credit card companies while I was there to negotiate the debt. At first she was doubtful, but I encouraged her. After a long conversation with the credit card company she was able to substantially reduce the amount owed, her interest rate was lowered and ultimately the payments. This overall would lower her bills enough to help her budget. When she finished the call she got emotional with tears and then a smile of relief.
I could see the mother needed an increase in her income. I asked how long she worked for her employer and if she had applied for any jobs elsewhere. She told me she had applied but not found another job that would pay more than what she was receiving now. I asked if there was a opportunity for advancement where she was presently employed. She said there was but she was not sure she had the confidence to go after it. I could see she needed a boost of confidence to move up in her career. I asked her what was holding her back. Did she not think she was able to complete the tasks necessary for this job? She immediately defended herself, saying her husband had always told her she was not smart enough for any other job. His unkind criticism should have been a warning to this mother. After looking at her in-depth education and observing the professional way she handled the call to the credit card companies I could see she was capable of handling a job with more responsibility. I encouraged her to speak to her employer about a raise and apply for the position that would enable her career to grow. Within two days of the conversation she informed me, with great enthusiasm, she was given a promotion and a raise. This boosted her confidence and gave her an "I can" attitude. Upon the second visit I could see a restored energy in this previously oppressed woman. Even the children showed a new happiness that replaced their bewilderment.
"We" helped this family with its immediate needs of food, utility and rental assistance. This allowed her budget to get on target. I asked if she had done the paperwork necessary to get legally separated from her husband, to prevent any further damage to her financial position. She said she had.
Our last conversation was another tearful one. The mother thanked all of "us" for this assistance. She said the amount of relief she felt to not have the constant worry over how she was going to feed her children has filled her with gratitude and a new found joy in her life. She said she no longer is filled with shame. Her additional earnings allowed her and her children to get off of the SNAP food assistance program. Her confidence has returned. She loves her new job responsibilities and hopes she can work her way up to an even better position. She said, "This is all thanks to The Time Is Now to Help and its supporters. I would never have felt better about myself or my life if I hadn't talked to you. Your reassurance that this was not my fault, and putting my budget on track, helped my children and I to move forward towards a better life." I am grateful we were able to help and be a positive influence in this woman and her children's lives. God Bless all of "you" for making this possible.
Health & Happiness, God Bless Everyone,
Please Note We Have A New Mailing Address: Make checks payable to: The Time Is Now to Help, P.O. Box 1, Lake Geneva, WI 53147. The Time Is Now to Help is a federally recognized 501(c)3 charitable organization licensed in the states of Wisconsin and Illinois. You will receive a tax deductible, itemized thank you receipt showing how your donation provided assistance for the poverty stricken.
A Very Special Thank You: James & Lynne Newman Foundation, Whiting Law Group, Dick & Jean Honeyager, Pentair Foundation, Kunes' Country Chevrolet-Cadillac, Fox Charities, Paul Ziegler, Lake Geneva School of Cooking, Chef John Bogan, Lake Geneva Area Realty, Jeff Martin, Martin Group, John Stensland & Family, Barbara Spiegelhoff, ITW Foundation, Peck & Weis Heating & Cooling , Lakeland Trash Service, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lakes, Dr. Mark & Cynthia Brower, June Davidsen, Joan Marabito Rietz, Margarie Egger, Roger Gilbert, Lauren Grady, Yvonne Mol, Gerald & Joyce Byers, John & Violet Hotzfeld, Stephanie Riley, Susan Russella, Raymond & Darlene Berg, Genevieve Bogden, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers, and all the God loving volunteers of all our caring food pantries, ALL of you who support The Time Is Now to Help donation boxes, and the businesses that allow our donation boxes. Anyone who would like a Time Is Now donation box in your business, please call (262) 249-7000. Please visit: www.timeisnowtohelp.org