News & Updates

One Paycheck Away

It’s like tipping a line of dominoes.

One tragedy happens and sets in motion a series of financial and emotional problems, even for families who thought they were economically secure. It can happen to anyone.

It happened to Mary*.

Nearly a decade ago, Mary, her husband and their three children lived in middle class comfort and security. But a jack slipped while her husband was working on their car and he was killed – right in front of their 8-year-old son.

Tragedy enough, but more was to come.

Mary and her two younger children were able to share solace together and they are doing well today, but her oldest child, Susan*, then 18, turned to her friends, who taught her to use drugs to ease her pain.

Mary kept her family afloat financially through her husband’s life insurance and finding work herself. But Susan sank more and more into the quicksand that is addiction. Susan found and lost jobs, went through rehab four times, but relapsed over and over.

Then Susan had a baby. The joy of a grandchild was muted by the extra set of problems she posed for Mary. Susan often dropped the little girl off with no notice and would disappear for days at a time. Eventually, Mary lost her job because her dependability was shot. Mary found work as an Uber driver and food deliverer so she could set her own schedule, but her income was barely enough to support the family.

“It’s super scary when you realize your life is literally one paycheck away from catastrophe,” Mary said.

Catastrophe struck three weeks before Mary came to GraceWorks.

Susan was found hanging by a belt in a motel room. She was luckily found in time, but the state children’s services department stepped in and demanded Mary stay with the baby 24 hours a day or the child would be put in foster care.

No more Uber driving. No more grocery delivery. No more income.

“I wasn’t going to be able to pay my rent for the first time in my life. I’ve always been able to work and give my child a middle class life. I have no resources. I didn’t qualify for government assistance. I had no one to ask for help.

“And then a friend told me about GraceWorks,” she said.

Mary was met with a calm and caring volunteer who listened to her story and found her help with her rent and food for her pantry.

Her daughter, devastated by the reality that her life had become, has found a rehab residential center where she can have her baby with her. Mary believes recovery just might happen this time.

And, after receiving help to get through a temporary crisis, Mary can return to work and have her financial stability back.

“GraceWorks is the only place where I could come and keep our life together. I am so grateful this place exists,” she said.

*To protect our neighbors, these are not their real names.

—by Kathi McClure

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