"At least I know I will have lights and hot water when I go home tonight, and I don't have to worry about being in the dark." - Marilyn
At 59 years old, Marilyn is no stranger to hard work. She has even volunteered at Crisis Assistance Ministry herself throughout her career. But, she has struggled to find new employment after being laid off last year. She has even gone back to school to improve her employment options, but things are still tight. Usually, she gets by with a little help from her family, with unemployment benefits, and by stretching every last dollar as far as she can. Then her heat pump gave out just as sub-freezing temperatures hit this winter. Unable to pay to fix the heater, she borrowed a space heater and bundled up against the cold.
But when her bill arrived, she saw a number she had never seen before. "I couldn't believe it. It was more than three times a normal month. And I just didn't know what I was going to do."
She turned to you for help on the very day her power was scheduled to be disconnected. And you were there for her in the form of a payment directly to Duke Power to keep her lights on and her power going. "I never thought I would be in this position," said Marilyn. "But it means so much to be able to say 'I need help,' and get it because people care enough to be sure help is available."
Thanks to you, Marilyn was able to get help when she had nowhere else to turn. Now, she's looking forward to welcoming her grandson home for his final spring break before he graduates from college.
"I hate to imagine where my family would be right now without (you)." - Alvin
Alvin, an unemployed mortgage analyst, puts a real face on a record-breaking statistic: hundreds of families in Charlotte face eviction each month. One year ago, Alvin and his wife were returning from a summer vacation with four of their children and a grandchild in tow. They weren't living in luxury, but they paid the bills, saved for the future, and kept a little back for the family beach trip every summer.
But in just a few short weeks, everything changes. Alvin was laid off from his long-time job. Since then, Rachel's retail salary and unemployment kept them just barely ahead of the past due notices. He faithfully submitted resumes, contacted prospective employers, and followed up on job leads. But nothing happened. By this summer, things were piling up and Alvin didn't know what to do. In July, his extended unemployment ended. They turned to Crisis Assistance Minstry when their power was disconnected and the eviction notices began to arrive.
Your help made it possible for he and his family to stay in their home, with the lights on, while he continues to look for employment. In fact, things are finally looking up. Just last week, he had 3 interviews after a long drought. Next year, he hopes he'll once again be able to save for a little family vacation, and most importantly, he wants to volunteer to help others who are struggling.
Army veteran ready to retrain for stability
Barbara (right), pictured with Benefit Bank Counselor Alia, was referred to Crisis Assistance Ministry by Charlotte Bridge Home for help identifying resources to restart her civilian life.
After working as a bus driver, a phlebotomist and serving our country in the Army for 12 years, Barbara is trying to pursue her dreams and reach financial stability. Working with one of our Benefit Bank counselors, Barbara learned she qualified for a Pell Grant to begin a nursing program this year. Once trained, Barbara can put her experience and education to work back home earning a living wage and building a future for herself. Benefit Bank allows individuals and families to apply for multiple assistance programs (like FAFSA, SNAP, and Medicaid) in one place, which often prevents the need for financial crisis assistance in the future. Barbara left feeling very inspired about her future - thanks in large part to your support of programs like Benefit Bank.
Maria is thankful for you
With her power and water scheduled for disconnection, Maria made sure she took a good hot shower before she came to Crisis Assistance Ministry for help. "I didn't know if it might be my last one for a while," she said. "But I just thank God that you were here today."
Having started over once after fleeing an abusive marriage six years ago, Maria didn't have many resources to keep her afloat when she lost her job last year. She wasn't eligible for unemployment, so she's been doing odd jobs, even cooking and cleaning in exchange for food. In the last few months, she has sold her jewelry, furniture, and nearly everything to pay her bills. But today she is out of time and resources to keep her utilities going so she can keep looking for full-time employment.
"I just say thank you, thank you . . ."
You Stood In the Gap for Patsy
“You have no idea how much it means that there are people who care enough to make sure help is here...”
A year ago, Patsy was happy to take in her daughter and grandchildren when they needed a little help. But it wasn’t long before her retired husband began having medical problems -- problems that took a toll on her job, on the family’s finances, and on everyone’s ability to cope.
Months of hospitalizations, emergency room visits and tests drained the family’s savings and kept Patsy from work. She did everything she could to keep things going, but turned to Crisis Assistance Ministry when winter brought higher utility bills on top of everything else.
A caring volunteer worked to stop her utility disconnection, and then a Benefit Bank counselor helped her identify food assistance and other benefits to help the family as they deal with her husband’s chronic illness.
“I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t bought myself anything in a year, but I try to be sure the children don’t suffer,” said Patsy who was also grateful for clothing and blankets she found in the Free Store for her 3 year old twin grandchildren.
Thanks to you, Patsy was able to keep the heat on and access resources to stabilize her family while they adjust to her husband’s medical needs.
You helped Yajarra prepare for winter
Yajarra’s family came to Charlotte seven years ago after losing their home to Katrina. Now, with a growing family, Yajarra’s mom is shopping at the community’s Free Store store to help manage the expense of her kid’s clothing and household essentials.
“They grow so fast - knowing that I don’t have to spend money for their winter clothes helps me to pay all of our other bills. And that is a big help.”
When Kimberly's husband left her with three kids, no income, and plenty of bills, she turned to Crisis Assistance Ministry to avoid eviction and keep the lights on until she could find employment and make her own way. Today, she's working two jobs, her children are in college, and she is giving back to the community.
Khaya is a shy 1 year old who has just begun to toddle. Her mother, Channel, hopes to find a warm coat for Khaya and 4 year old twins, Zymir and Zymira. It’s been hard to keep up with everything since she’s been unemployed and retraining to be a CNA. Her counselor at Goodwill suggested she see what was available at the community’s Free Store at Crisis Assistance Ministry. Struggling to ward off a nap, Khaya points at a nice pink coat that matches her Dora hat. Mom Channel was excited to find a coat for all three children and herself – a luxury she didn’t expect.
“Thank you so much. It makes a big difference as a Dad.”
Billy, a tree climber with 16 years of experience doing tree work, has been out of work for several months now. As winter set in, he didn’t have the cash to get winter clothes for his 3 year old daughter Angel. Everything she wore last year is too small. He turned to Crisis Assistance Ministry’s Free Store for help keeping her warm this winter.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do.” said Billy. Angel’s eyes lit up as she tried on a warm and beautiful coat from the donation racks. “Thank you so much. It makes a big difference as a Dad.”
Thanks to you, little Angel is warm and smiling today.
A longtime Navy veteran, Barry reads a book about healing relationships as he sits in the lobby at Crisis Assistance Ministry. He’s been struggling to make ends meet since a workplace injury sidelined him two years ago and he’s hoping for help to keep his utilities on until he can start retraining next month.
Barry has served in the Navy, volunteered as an addiction counselor, and worked loading & logistics with a freight company before his injury. Workman’s Compensation and savings have kept him afloat during surgery and recovery, but all of that has run out now. He’s scheduled to start retraining next month, but his power will be off today if he can’t pay the bill.
“I know that I will get back on track and when I do, I’ll be glad to be the one offering help to the next person.”
Rebecca, 32, is a mother of three. An unexpected divorce left her as a single mother returning to school to improve her earning capacity. “I figure if you aren’t trying to help yourself, then you can’t ask someone else to do it for you.” But when her child support never arrived this fall, she couldn’t make a scheduled payment on past due utility bills. Her power was disconnected. You made it possible to restore power so her children had a warm bath that night and light to finish their homework. “I don’t know what I would have done without this help right now.”
Nathaly, age 4, loves to sing and paint pictures. When she was just a year old, unexpected medical costs made it hard for Nathaly’s family to cover their bills and they turned to Crisis Assistance Ministry to keep their utilities on. Today the family manages, yet with both parents working, there still isn’t much left for extras. This year, they visited the Free Store for back-to-school clothes for Nathaly’s older brothers.
Your generosity provides the little extra help they need to stay on budget and remain on a path to financial stability.