There was a time in my life, not that long ago, that was the most humbling experience….
For years, I have helped raise funds or awareness about one charity or another. Thankfully, throughout most of those years I have never had to be a recipient of any of them. It always felt good to help others in need. Well, here is my story…
My husband and I had made a decent living – over $165,000.00/yr. After 15 yrs with a company and making a good salary my husband lost his job. Shortly, before losing his job, we had invested in real estate… not a good move. We lost everything! So, here we were starting over from scratch but thankfully his job covered all our bills including the new ones created from lost investments. There were no more vacations (not that we took many anyway) but now we couldn’t even if we wanted too. We were now living week to week. Then one fretful day in August, my husband came home with 6 weeks severance pay and was told there was no more work. He was told hopefully, things will change shortly and we can bring you back but until then you should maybe start looking for another job.
The cold reality set in – that we no longer had income and we no longer had money in the bank or IRA account. Now, what do we do? Finding another job was not so easy. 6 months later still no work and no money. We were denied help through social services because they claimed he made too much money with his unemployment check – how do you figure? The unemployment only puts food on the table and gas in the car but no bills were getting paid and we were falling further and further behind.
Well, here is the real humbling part. We were now 3 months or more behind most bills. We humbly turned to the church. They not only helped us with some of our bills but provided us with much needed food so that we were able to use the money that we were spending in the grocery store to help pay other bills.
I couldn’t bring myself to go to the food pantry as I was used to giving not receiving. I found myself unable to stop the tears from flowing. We were an average family that always paid our taxes, bills, and helped others. We had kids like most families and now I couldn’t even afford gifts for the holidays. I sat in my living room and cried about what we didn’t have or couldn’t do but yet I was happy to know that even though our system turned us away our very own church and local schools were willing to help. I felt like a failure as a parent that we couldn’t provide for our children but as sad as it was I knew we weren’t alone. There were many other families going through the same thing maybe even worse.
The reason I am telling this story is because I want to point out 2 things.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – go to your schools and local religious ministries – everything is confidential.
- Please do not donate expired goods – do not give to others what you yourself would not eat or use. Remember, the receiving families of all you donate are already experiencing a sad reality and expired goods only makes them feel more worthless. Remember, that could be you or your children one day (hopefully not) but more than likely someone you know whether it be your next door neighbor, friend or co-worker is experiencing this. It’s not something people brag about or even want you to know about. So, please think twice before sending expired items.
A great lesson was learned through that experience and now when I donate, I do it with great pleasure and eagerness to know that a family out there is relying on my help.
May God watch over you as he is watching over me.