Ann was a single mother of three living on welfare. She was often without funds to pay the necessary bills each month. Her income was $262 a month and she received about $350 per month in food stamps. Although food was usually in abundance, they often lacked necessities that could not be purchased with food stamps, like toilet paper and shampoo. They often had to compromise and were challenged to find creative alternatives . . . Like using Downy as hair conditioner.
One summer, Ann found that she did not have sufficient funds to pay the electric bill. Disconnection was imminent. So, Ann packed up the kids (in the stroller, since she had no car) and began the all-too-familiar walk to the township trustee’s office to once again seek assistance.
When Ann arrived, there were several others sitting in the waiting area. This was not an easy task as many of the township employees looked down on them and treated them as though they had some sort of disease that they did not wish to contract. They were often treated rudely, with little patience or understanding.
As Ann waited her turn, another young mother, Sue, with three children and a stroller entered the waiting area. Sue approached the receptionist and stated her need. She was out of food and would not be getting any money or food stamps for another week. The receptionist looked up the young mother’s file in the computer. She then informed Sue that she could not have any assistance because it had not been long enough since her last visit.
Ann immediately spoke up and said, “I can help you”. Then Sue looked at Ann strangely. The receptionist looked at Ann even more strangely. She suspiciously questioned her, “If you can help Sue, why are you here asking us to help you?”
Ann explained, “I have lots of food, but no cash. I can’t pay my electric bill with food stamps.” Sue was very hesitant but finally agreed to accept Ann’s offer of help. When Ann returned from her visit with her case worker, Sue was gone. Hurriedly, Ann left the office and began going from street to street in an effort to find Sue and her young family. After about 20 minutes of searching, Ann finally found them and after some persuasion, she finally convinced the Sue to follow her home.
When they arrived at Ann’s house, Ann called a Christian neighbor who brought his car to help with the delivery. As Ann filled bag after bag with groceries, Sue expressed her thanks. She was in awe that Ann would share with a total stranger. They filled the car with groceries, baby clothes and a playpen that Ann no longer used. Sue was embarrassed, but Ann explained to her that we are all blessed with something that we can share with others regardless of how little we have.
By Venus A. Coppernoll, Copyright 2004 Venus.Coppernoll@trimedx.com