The Place comes into contact with many of our Forsyth neighbors who are struggling against poverty. Some are bound in generational poverty: their families were poor and breaking the cycle is difficult. Others experience situational poverty with its sneak attack of unexpected circumstances. The following story is based on a client who reached out to The Place for help. Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality.
A single phone call changed the trajectory of Kathy’s life.
Monday afternoon, as she drove home from work, Kathy mentally inventoried the contents of her refrigerator and pantry and decided she could make dinner without stopping by the grocery. Her husband, Ben, had an early shift today and had already picked up their younger daughter from her friend’s house and the older one from play practice. The four of them could eat dinner and go to the apartment pool for an hour or so before bedtime, if the girls didn’t have too much homework.
She smiled as she pulled in front of the complex they had moved into three years ago after its construction. The landscaped grounds and attractive architecture always gave her a lift and she loved their spacious, three-bedroom apartment.
As she let herself into their unit, she called out, “I’m home!”
Darla, her 11-year-old, sat at the kitchen island, studiously completing her math homework. “Hi, Mommy.” She lifted her cheek for Kathy’s kiss.
“Where are your daddy and sister?”
“Kayla is practicing her speech for school in her room. I told her I couldn’t concentrate with all that yakking out here. And Daddy went to get some ice cream. He said we could have ice cream for dessert if we finished out homework before dinner.”
Kathy nodded and pulled pasta and a jar of sauce out of the pantry. Just then her cell phone rang. She set the food on the counter and reached into her purse, peering curiously at the unknown number on the screen before answering.
“May I speak to Mrs. Kathy Anderson?”
“This is she.”
“Ma’am, this is Officer Stanton. Your husband has been in an accident. The ambulance is taking him to the hospital.”
Kathy listened in an unbelieving daze as the police officer gave her the details and instructed her to meet them at the emergency room. In the same shocked state, she ushered her frightened girls to the car and rushed to the emergency room.
Ben’s injuries were catastrophic. For a time, they thought he wouldn’t survive. He lost a leg and three fingers from one hand. His hospital stay stretched to a month, long past the cushion of their health insurance.
As the medical bills mounted, their income dwindled. Ben job offered a good hourly wage that paid only when he worked. It was a physically demanding job, one that he’d never be able to manage again. Kathy had a salaried position with benefits, but she and Ben had always used both their incomes to make ends meet.
Finally, the hospital released Ben to go home, warning Kathy that he would need round-the-clock care until he had fully recovered. The girls had to attend school, and were too young to take on that responsibility, so Kathy applied for family leave to care for her husband. Barely coping, she struggled to be caretaker, mother and head of the household, while sinking in a sea of rising debt.
Despite her overwhelming circumstances, Kathy was dedicated to helping her family overcome this crisis. She reached out to The Place for assistance to pay their rent and avoid eviction.
The mission of The Place is to help clients achieve a stable, self-sustaining life. It offers case-by-case financial aid, but not ongoing assistance. The Place granted Kathy’s immediate need when she agreed to accept budget counseling and develop a long-term plan to deal with her situation.
While Kathy struggled in the middle of her crisis, she had neither the time nor the energy to manage anything beyond the most urgent needs. Counselors from The Place helped her create a survival plan with options, including moving to a less expensive apartment, selling assets, negotiating payment plans and applying for government disability assistance for Ben.
Before her husband’s accident, Kathy might have considered her family immune from poverty. But many of us could be just an event away from its reach. The Place of Forsyth reaches out to those knocked down by a tragedy. Please consider donating your time or money to give a helping hand to your neighbors.