Courtney looks for the good in every situation. On a recent day at Crisis Assistance Ministry, while seeking assistance with an extremely high electric bill, she took a moment to count her blessings.
She’s thankful to her parents for the risk they took two decades ago, moving the family from a fading Pennsylvania town to up-and-coming Charlotte. Here, they opened a successful restaurant and provided a stable middle-class lifestyle for Courtney and her siblings. But, when her father passed away, the rest of the family moved back to their Pennsylvania roots.
Left to raise her two children here alone, Courtney still finds grace in the struggle. She appreciates her employer and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that allows her the leeway to care for her 8-year-old son’s special medical needs. Experience has taught her that many employers don’t look kindly on a worker leaving at a moment’s notice after an unexpected phone call from the school, so she chooses to focus on her job’s flexibility over its modest paycheck.
Courtney works hard, but finances are tight. While FMLA allows her flexibility, it doesn’t guarantee paid time off. She earns a little extra by visiting the plasma center twice a week and driving for a ride-share company when she can find someone to babysit the kids. Still, bills often overwhelm her income, especially as the season’s change. She’s grateful to her landlord for the reasonable rent she pays, but the house is poorly insulated. The heating and air conditioning unit seems to run nonstop, and air escapes through the windows and under the doors.
When a $500 electric bill arrived after an especially difficult month, Courtney knew her budget couldn’t stretch that far. So, she found herself at Crisis Assistance Ministry. Thanks to the support of a generous community, a payment directly to her energy provider stopped the disconnection of the family’s electricity.
“Be grateful for what you have,” Courtney reminds us. “But also realize that not everyone is as fortunate as you. And even if they’re doing everything they can, it may not be enough to take care of their families.”
With her crisis averted, Courtney is optimistic about achieving two big dreams. She’s hard at work improving her credit score, with the goal of owning her own home by the end of 2022. And she’s determined to one day attend cosmetology school, so she can help others appreciate beauty as well.