United Way for South Louisiana strives to fund all of its member agencies to the best of its ability throughout the year. It’s through donations from the community that make this possible. When our agencies receive funding, they ensure it goes to members of the local community who need a hand up. It may be during a time of great need, just to get back on they feet, or maybe a major life change just occurred, or a death in the family. Either way, our agencies work day in and day out to help those looking to make things better for themselves.
One such story comes from St. Mary Outreach, an organization in St. Mary Parish that provides emergency assistance to those in need in the community.
It all started with a family…
A married couple with their two young children were trying to make a living working in the oil field, when things went from pay check to pay check, to no check at all. Dad was laid off from his job, and although he was receiving unemployment, their income had taken a big hit. After several months, the couple decided that they would not be able to financially stay in the area so they moved out of state, back to where Mom’s family could help them.
After a year and a half, and a new addition to their family they made the decision to try the oil field industry again. Reservations were made at a local motel. They would call this home until they could find something more. The family set out on their way to a better, brighter future with everything they owned packed into the family car. Now most stories would end here with, “And they lived happily ever after,” but they were not so fortunate.
On the way to town, the family car started giving them trouble. They were able to make it to the motel but that would be as far as the car would take them. Unfortunately, it would cost more to repair the car than what the car was worth, now they had no transportation. The little bit of extra money they had saved to use for groceries and expenses until Peter received his first check would now be used for a taxi, which would take all they had left.
Down on their luck, a worker at the motel suggested that they contact St. Mary Outreach. The family was in need of food, hygiene products, baby diapers and formula, and with the girls going to a new school, they also needed uniforms.
Mom had called ahead to see what information she would need to provide and explained a little bit of her situation to the caseworker. After all, they could not afford to make multiple trips so she wanted to make sure she had everything on hand. Upon arriving at St. Mary Outreach, Mom and the children were called back to the caseworker’s office. There, the girls played with the donated toys while their mother “talked business with the nice lady.” The good news was that Dad did have a job, but he would not be receiving a check for two weeks. Although the baby was on WIC, Mom had to make an appointment at the local office which can take up to 30 days, as well as apply for SNAP benefits. Mom new that if they could some how make it through the next 30 days they would be able to sustain themselves. The dilemma was the the next 30 days.
Help was right around the corner…
St. Mary Outreach assisted the family with food, baby formula, diapers, wipes, hygiene products, and school uniforms. They were also given toys, which made the girls very happy since they were not able to bring many belongings with them. Due to their transportation issues, on several occasions during those first 30 days, St. Mary Outreach delivered the necessities to the family at the motel. Also, Dad made a friend at work that was able to bring him to and from work every day. Things were looking up for the family, but money was extremely tight and would continue to get tighter before the month ended. Dad developed an ear infection from a burn on his ear that had happened at work. St. Mary Outreach was able to provide the two prescriptions that Dad needed. Due to the ear infection, Dad missed several days of work which put the family behind on their motel payment. St. Mary Outreach was able to assist with the difference, which was a huge relief.
Several months had passed and the family was making ends meet, but they were striving to provide better for themselves. They had found a home, but with the costs of deposits and still having to pay the motel expense they could not afford the entire first month’s rent. Mom was hesitant to call because she felt that St. Mary Outreach had done so much for them already. But, she swallowed her pride and did what was best for her family.
Mom sat with the caseworker, explained their situation and that she only needed partial help with the first month’s rent. The caseworker knew that this would give them the help they needed to be able to make it successfully on their own, and she was right…and they lived happily ever after.