Making a difference, one family at a time

When you think of people in need, often one pictures the chronically poor, the unemployed, under-employed or disabled individuals. But the faces of those in need also can include your next-door neighbor. It is no surprise that nearly 40 percent of American households live paycheck to paycheck, according to the Consumer Federation of America and the Consumer Planner Board of Standards.
A recent report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development shows that many Americans are just one financial hit away from poverty. According to the report, nearly half of Americans (43.9 percent) lack enough savings to keep themselves out of poverty for more than three months in the event of a financial shock such as a lost job or medical emergency.

That is the case with Linda and her husband Dan. Dan has a good job with a national delivery service organization. Together they live a modest life with their two children in a local community.
In the early part of summer, Dan was doing some work in his back yard. He had a mishap and tore his rotator cuff. The doctor told him that this unfortunate accident would take him off the job for at least four weeks. Additionally, since the accident happened at home, he would receive no financial support from his job.

Dan’s wife Linda works full time at a daycare; however, during the summer months her hours are only a quarter of those during the school year. This amounts to only $80 per week. Though they both knew it would be tight, they figured they would be able to manage the monetary disruption. That is, until they found out Dan’s shoulder was not healing as fast as it should. Four weeks off turned into six, then nine. To make matters worse, when Dan could return to work, it would be another two weeks before he would get a paycheck.

For this family of four, the temporary setback was turning tragic. Bills were quickly adding up—electric, gas, water, mortgage. And what were they going to do about food? The electricity was about to be cut off, and the cupboards were bare. Linda was familiar with Sacred Heart Southern Missions and our work with those in need. She and her daughter made their way to Flanagan Center and Sr. Janice Richards immediately began to work her magic.

Sr. Janice says that she sees this type of emergency all the time. Though she gets her share of those who need help on a more regular basis, the frequency of a medical-or job-related deficit wreaking havoc on a family’s finances happens more often than not. “Sometimes it is simply not possible to be prepared for these types of emergencies,” said Sr. Janice. “It’s not because they are living beyond their means. They simply don’t have anything extra once they take care of their bills.”

A few phone calls later and things were looking much brighter for Linda and Dan. The mortgage company agreed to work with them through their crisis. Linda had just received her weekly check from the daycare. That money plus the assistance from SHSM avoided a disconnect of the utilities. Finally, a trip to our food pantry put much needed groceries in their hands. Linda, Dan and their children are going to be all right.

Linda was ecstatic when she and sister had finished. “This place is a blessing. I have known about it for a long time—you all do such wonderful things! My family and I will be back to volunteer later this year. I can’t thank you enough!”

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