The company I worked for closed down suddenly a few months ago and left me without a job. I have been searching for a new job and have finally found one, but I will not be starting for another week yet. I am falling further and further behind in my bills. My disabled mother lives with me along with my two nephews I have custody of due to my brother passing away five years ago. For the past two weeks, we have only had sandwiches to eat and been cutting back wherever we can so I can try to pay our rent. I have not been able to pay this month’s car payment. If I lose my car I will not be able to get to my new job and support my family. Feeding two growing boys is difficult when you can only give them sandwiches and one of the boys has severe food allergies. I worked for my last employer for over 10 years, and I did not even receive a notice that they would be closing. I have not been able to sleep or eat over the stress of worrying that my family could become homeless due to this. I hope you can help.
The stress and worry this woman was enduring due to her job loss and her inability to properly feed her family was causing sleepless nights and unnecessary weight loss. The woman felt a responsibility to provide a stable home life for her two nephews and mother, who had all endured much in life already. The thought of possibly becoming homeless weighed heavily on her shoulders. Even with a job, the woman just got by each month and had very little savings. To go two months without employment caused them to fall behind enough that it would be impossible for any working poor family to recover from.
I paid a visit to this family while the boys were still at school. I was not sure if the woman kept their financial worries to herself, or if they might know what they were going through. I was sure they had an idea of their dilemma, if they had only been able to eat sandwiches for several weeks and knew their aunt had lost her job. Children, especially teenage children, are very intuitive to the financial stress and any other underlying problems a family may be having.
When I arrived at the small house, I went to the front door to knock. I heard a dog bark and was greeted by a woman with a cane who I assumed was the mother. Once she had the dog sitting behind her, she opened the door and questioned who I was. I showed her my identification and asked if her daughter was at home. The mother answered: “I am the one who told my daughter to write a letter to you. I know who you are. Please come in.”
I entered the home, and once I told the woman I was fine with dogs, she released her well behaved dog from his sit/stay so he could greet me. He was a Golden Retriever full of energy and happiness. Once I greeted both the mother and the dog, she told him to go to his bed and he listened obediently.
The daughter who had written the letter came to see who was at her home, and was surprised when she saw me there. After her initial surprise, she burst into tears. She apologized for her reaction, but I could see the stress she was in had truly been taking a toll on her. She said: “When my mother told me about The Time Is Now to Help, I thought it was too good to be true. I really did not believe there was a charity that could help us in our community. I wrote the letter, but did not expect a response. I never expected to see you in my house a week later.”
She tried to control her tears, but was not successful. She excused herself to get tissues while the mother invited me into their dining area.
The home was small but well taken care of. It looked neat and orderly, considering there were two teenage boys and a large dog that lived there, in addition to the two women. The mother showed me the tiny kitchen and the boys’ shared room, in addition to the two bedrooms the women used. The daughter said: “I know it looks small, but it is what we could afford and it has a yard for the dog and the boys. That is what mattered to them more than anything. Their father gave them the dog before he died, so he holds a special meaning for them. I could not take that away from them, too, when they were so grief-stricken over their dad dying.”
I asked about the boy’s mother, and learned she had been an unfit mother and was not involved in the boys’ lives nor did she pay any child support. Their father had been raising the boys on his own before his untimely death. I was saddened to hear these boys had lost their father at such a young age to a car accident.
The two women and I sat in the kitchen to talk. The woman showed me pictures of her nephews and some of their sports and scholastic awards they had received. She was a very proud aunt, and it was easy to tell how much she loved them by the way she glowed when she spoke about them. We went on talking about their present situation and the state of their finances. The woman told me about the betrayal she felt from her past employer, as she had worked for them for over 10 years and not even received a notice that they would be going out of business.
She said: “It was a small business, so there were only a few of us employed there. I had noticed some changes, but nothing that had me concerned they would be going out of business. It was terrifying, as I feel the weight of my responsibilities to this family every day. I take my job as aunt and daughter seriously. They all count on me.”
I saw tears spring to her eyes again as she added: “I’m usually not so emotional. Ask my mom, I’m always the strong one. This is the first time I was worried I couldn’t take care of the boys, and they might get taken away from me. I couldn’t live with myself if that happened.”
The mother reached for her daughter’s hand, and said: “You are always the strong one. You are always helping others, but this time you have to ask for help.”
The daughter grasped her mother’s hand, and said: “It is so hard for me to do, but for you and the boys I will do it.” She then looked at me and asked, “Do you think you can help us?”
I assured her we would work on a plan together to get them back on track. I watched the relief cross her face as she wiped away her tears.
We got to work on a plan, starting by going over their budget. I could see the rent was reasonable where they were and the rental worked for them with the boys and dog. I asked about the woman’s new job, and was happy to see she would be earning slightly more than she had at her past job. Her new job would begin in a week, so it would be some time before they had enough income, so I knew our assistance was especially critical to prevent any further fall into poverty.
She showed me her car payments, and we reviewed her vehicle. She was a month behind in her payments, so I made a note on her list to bring that up-to-date and one payment into the future to relieve some of their financial stress. She showed me her food budget, and I could see where that had been especially strained the past two weeks. I provided them with grocery gift cards, as her one nephew had bad food allergies that required a special diet. The aunt had been especially worried about his nutrition over the past few weeks when they had all been on a diet that was less than ideal. I handed gift cards for a grocery store to the aunt, and she again was moved to tears.
She said: “How can we thank you for this? I have not been able to give my boys a proper meal in weeks and especially my nephew that is allergic to so many foods.”
I took that opportunity to tell the women about all of you and your donations that make our assistance possible. She listened carefully before saying, “Please tell those people thank you for helping my family, and especially for making sure my boys have food and do not lose their home.” I assured her I would.
After a thorough review and a long conversation with the two women, I was even more convinced that they were good people who were in desperate need of our caring assistance. The aunt shared her stress and worries she had kept to herself. The woman shared: “I did not want to stress the boys by telling them what we are going through. They are finally doing well again, after all these years. I keep it positive for them, and all they know is I am starting a new job soon. They are so happy about that, and even tell me they are proud of me.”
I watched as the dog walked over to the woman and seemed to know she needed comforting. His big head nudged her arm and his tail wagged as he kissed her cheek. The aunt reached over and hugged the dog saying: “This guy here has really helped all of us. He is so well behaved, and I think he gives all of us emotional support. I don’t know what we would have done without him these past five years.”
I hear this from so many of the people we help when they speak about their pets. Their unconditional love helps people going through many difficult situations, making the painful and stressful times in life less challenging.
The aunt told me the boys would be home soon, so I decided it would be best to end my visit, not wanting them to question why I was there. I went over the list of assistance we would be providing, two months rent, two car payments and gift cards for food and toiletries. The aunt and her mother both were crying now, and their big dog went back and forth between the women trying to provide comfort. I got up to leave, and we all walked to the door together. Both women asked: “Can we hug you? You have done so much to help us and we don’t know how to thank you.”
I hugged the mother and daughter goodbye, and even said bye to their dog that seemed to know I was there to help. They waved goodbye as I drove back to my office to make sure I got their assistance to them as quickly as possible.
Several weeks later, after the woman had begun her new job and been able to pay her overdue rent and car payment, I called to see how things were going. She was excited and happy with her new position. The stress and worry had been removed, and I felt like I was talking to a new positive person. We had indeed provided the life-changing assistance they needed to prevent the pains of homelessness, job loss and hunger.
Thank you and God bless you for making this assistance possible.
Please donate to our new matching grant opportunity, the 2019 Barnabas $88,420 Matching Grant. Again Barnabas has come to us inspired to help many fellow creations living in poverty. We are so excited for this new matching grant and the poverty relief it will provide. Our hopes and prayers are that you will take this opportunity to donate, knowing every dollar of your donation will be matched by the amazing Barnabas donors, doubling your donations. As always, every penny of this matching grant will be used to provide poverty relief.
Health and happiness, love and God bless everyone, Sal