A family of four. Only income: social security.
There is no such thing as a “typical” case at AIM. People have all sorts of different stories of how and why they came to AIM. Every once in a while, however, there’s a case that stands out.
On the day before Thanksgiving, one of our volunteers, Elizabeth, interviewed a woman and her daughter who needed assistance with their power bill. This family was very familiar with budgeting and had been getting by for a while. They did not have any great debt or loans to pay. Unfortunately, the mother’s father had died recently and they were having trouble paying the $6,000 cost in addition to everything else.
The devastation does not stop there. The father in the family has little life left. He is not expected to survive the rest of the winter. They receive some help from Hospice, but the mother is a full-time caregiver to her husband.
Terminal illness is nothing new to the ears of the interviewers. “Most weeks we have at least one case with a sickness like that,” said Steve, the Emergency Assistance Director at AIM.
What sets this case apart from the others is that there is more than one member of the family who is not expected to live long. The daughter has a 9 year old son who is suffering from a type of blood cancer. There is treatment, but no cure. Whereas most cancers have four stages, this one only has three, and the boy is in the first stage. Not only does the boy have this blood disease, but he also has ADHD. He cannot go out and play sports because of his disease, so he has no outlet for the ADHD.
This family is struggling to pay for the cost of the grandfather’s funeral. They live solely off of the social security they receive for the father and for the child as well as food stamps. The mother takes care of her husband, and the daughter is a caregiver to the little boy. They came to AIM hoping that we could help them with their power bill for the month.
“I saw so many emotions cross their faces,” said Elizabeth when asked how they reacted to the news that AIM could help them with their power bill as well as with Christmas. “Disbelief… gratitude… relief… there was a silence at first, like they were holding their breath.”
She felt that they were waiting for the “we can help you… but.” Upon not hearing that word and realizing that they could receive help, the mother and daughter broke down in tears and thanked Elizabeth again and again.
“It was all I could do not to sob with them,” she said, yet her face showed just how much sorrow and sympathy she had for the family.
AIM was able to give this family temporary relief in the form of covering the entirety of their $400 power bill. In their situation, we hope that this little bit of a hand up will allow them to take a breather and focus on taking care of the family. That is what the Emergency Assistance program is all about: allowing people to take a breath and focus on what is really important, as well as teaching them how to budget. This family already knew how to budget, but they really needed that assistance in the midst of tragedy and sickness.
“What makes this case unusual is that it is three generations of family – gone,” said Nancy, HR Manager at AIM. “It’s a tragedy.”
AIM was able to help this family, if only briefly. Sometimes that momentary relief does a world of good in families. At the very least, it gives them hope that there are people out there who are willing to listen and help, and hope in a greater good. At AIM we know there is a Greater Good, and He has a name and a face: Jesus Christ. While our goal is to teach people to better themselves, our reason for being here is to help families like these in response to Jesus’s command to clothe the poor and help the needy, and, ultimately, to give God “all glory, honor, and power” (Rev. 4:11).