It's that time again--New Years Eve, a night where folks throw confetti, wear glittery accessories and make lofty resolutions to do something bigger, better or not at all in the year to come.
The Modest Needs family has decided to skip the confetti (too much clean-up) and glittery accessories (it's an office, not a Vegas musical revue), but we can absolutely get behind the New Year's resolution tradition. Both the individuals and the organization as a whole have some goals set for 2012, and we're sharing them in hopes that you'll share a few of yours back:
Keith, Founder and President:
Every year, I make some variation of the same resolution - lose weight, exercise more, take better care of myself physically. This year, instead of going after symptoms, I'm going after the problem itself: stress. I'm sure that 2012 will have its share of stressful situations, and while I may not be able to control whether or not those situations arise, I have decided I can control my reaction to them. So my resolution is to spend as much time laughing with friends and family as possible while learning 'not to sweat the small stuff!'
Kate, Client Advocacy Specialist:
My New Year's resolution is short and simple--to make more time to be with my family.
Allie, Client Advocacy Specialist:
I'm going to start wearing a belt. Seriously, that's it. I'm just going to try and wear a belt more often.
Kimberly, Director of Public Outreach:
I'm going to try and watch my potty mouth in 2012. I'm from New Jersey, and we Garden Staters have been known to use expletives the way most people use punctuation marks. So in 2012 I'm going to try and be less liberal with the curse words and just a little more demure overall.
And of course, Modest Needs as a whole has an important resolution (or two) for 2012:
We really have two resolutions at Modest Needs. First, and most practically, is to meet the 21 March 2012 deadline we've set for ourselves for the launch of Modest Needs' new website. More importantly, though, all of us at Modest Needs would like for 2012 to be our 'breakthrough' year. We've now had ten years to learn how to do this work with compassion and efficiency. In the final months of this year, we saw the impact of that type of operational model on Modest Needs' applicants, who received the assistance they'd requested in record numbers. In 2012, we'd simply like to be able to say at the close of the year that we were able to get help to a minimum of 80% of the people who came to us seeking assistance - and that we were able to help these people within two weeks of their having applied for help. If we can do this, then Modest Needs' 10th anniversary year will also have been the best year ever for our donors and applicants, and I don't think we could ask for more than that!
So we dished. What are YOUR New Year's resolutions?
Happy New Years to you and yours, and here's wishing all a lush, lucky and loved 2012!
This past Christmas, Modest Needs funded 74 grants in just 48 hours, helping dozens of families wake up to a very happy holiday. Now we've got the New Year in our sights, and we're determined to help just as many individuals start off 2012 on the right foot.
Today's application comes from a single mother. A social worker effected by the downturn in the economy, she's had difficulty finding a permanent employment over the last year. Rather than get down, however, she got busy, finding work as a telemarketer in order to stay afloat financially. Now she needs our help catching up on the rent that went past due while she was looking for a job.
This applicant dreams of getting back to helping others in the New Year, and we support her dream. With just a little funding, we can keep her in her home and propel her toward success. Read on to get to know this Applicant of the Day in her own words, and for a link to help her directly:
"My name is Karen and I am a divorced single woman. I have one son who is 23 and a senior in college. I have been a social worker for 15 years, but for the last year I have been unable to find a permanent job in this field. I assume that is because of the economy troubles.
To make ends meet while I look for a full time position in my field, I've recently taken a job as a telemarketer. This has allowed me to catch up on most of my bills, but I'm not yet caught up on my rent, and I'm asking for help with this bill because today because I just received a three day eviction notice. This is a first for me.
I am scared to death that I'm not going to be able to pay my rent in time to prevent my eviction. If you could help me to stay in my home, in the future, I should be able to pay rent on my own and on time.
As a social worker, you never really think you'll be in the position of the people you work with. One thing's for sure. When I get back to work, I'm going to have a whole new perspective on how important my job is.
I hope you'll think about helping me with my rent. Thank you so much, and Happy Holidays."
Christmas miracles aren't just the stuff of claymation holiday specials and Frank Capra films. They happen to real people every year, and Modest Needs has proof. In the two days leading up to Christmas 2011, Modest Needs donors from across the country pooled their resources to fully fund seventy-four applications in just forty-eight hours.
That means seventy-four individuals (plus their family members) woke up on Christmas morning to the news that their grants had been funded. Families were pulled back from the edge of eviction. Outstanding medical bills were paid. Heat and hot water were restored to homes. Funds for auto repairs were released to car owners. And, in one very special case, an Army National Guard member was granted the money to pay for his mother's burial expenses.
It's a wonderful life indeed.
Modest Needs was overwhelmed by the outpouring of warm words from our Christmas grant recipients, words which were the true embodiment of "holiday cheer." We felt it only fair to share these words with you, our donors and supporters, since you were the ones who made each of these Christmas miracles possible:
On today of all days, you don't know how huge a gift you've given to me and my nephew. What a wonderful day indeed. I can't wait to call my sister to tell her the good news. She has supported me through the advocacy process and comforted me when she knew I needed it. I have to tell you that I feel comforted and blessed right now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I will keep you in my prayers, always.
My daughter and I want to THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for helping us to get our van fixed. This is has turned out to be a wonderful Christmas for us, truly a miracle. God Bless each and everyone of you, you are our angels. I am sitting here crying happy tears because of you. There was no money for gifts this year, but this is the best gift we could get. We have been praying everyday. Thank you again for your help, we will remember this for the rest of our lives and be forever thankful for all of you.
I was amazed to wake up and see that our application was funded this morning! What a wonderful Christmas gift for my family! We're feeling a great weight lifted from our minds and hearts. The relief is uplifting and we're overwhelmed with the generosity of the donors who made this possible. We honestly can't thank everyone enough, it feels like we had angels watching over us. We can go into 2012 confident that our year will be so much easier now that we'll be caught up with our finances. And we'll be welcoming our daughter in March! We're blessed to have had these people come into our lives and we won't forget how they changed not just our situation, but our lives!
"Thank You" is truly not enough. You have given us a True Christmas Miracle today. Your warmth and generosity will get our 'wheels,' and us, back on our feet safely, so that I may pursue the position of Dialysis Patient Technician and be able to perform dialysis at home for Kimberly in the New Year. No more getting up at 3:00AM to struggle under the hood with the car battery, or check the tire conditions and pressures, before driving her to her dialysis unit three days a week! Thank you and God Bless You, Modest Needs!
Your generosity, selflessness and sacrifice, which led to the funding of my Modest Needs application to help me with my mother's burial expenses, are the best Christmas present I could have ever received. As you know, I am a soldier in the Army National Guard. When my sister died unexpectedly this April, I was devastated. As my family and I tried to come to terms with her loss and move on, my mother became gravely ill. I could only hope I would not be deployed and would be in the country to be with her during her last days. Well, God granted me those days with her. However, since I had incurred the expenses of my sister's funeral just 4 months ago and was now on active duty orders for the Army, there was no money leftover to use or even try to save to pay for my mother's final expenses. That was a painful and devastating reality. After I submitted my application I waited and anxiously checked the status of my application each day. I had all but given up hope that the application would be funded when I received the wonderful news, and all I could do is say prayers of thanksgiving and praise to God for all of you as tears of joy streamed down my face. You cannot imagine how deeply I have been touched by your kindness. I will never, ever forget this.
From our Modest Needs family to yours, thank you for making these holiday miracles possible.
The birth of a child should be a joyous occasion. For many couples, however, it means time away from work, lost income and new expenses.
Such is the case for today's Application of the Day. This couple's finances took a hit when maternity leave halved their monthly income. Instead of spending the allotted time off bonding with her new daughter, this mother had to return work after just 7 weeks to avoid financial disaster. During that seven weeks of reduced income, however, this family feel behind on their bills and rent. Now they're facing eviction. Scroll on to read this family's plight in their own words, and to lean how you can help them stay afloat:
"I am part of a family of four. My significant other works two part-time jobs in the evening hours and spends his days at home with our two children, a son who will be five, and a daughter who is just four months old. He takes whatever hours work can give him to support his family. I work as a food service team member working day time hours. We don't get to see each other much, but we do what we can to support our family, even if that means working opposite shifts.
Just recently I took a short term disability leave from work due to the birth of my daughter. I took seven weeks leave with only six of the seven weeks being fifty percent paid. Even though I was allowed to take up to thirteen weeks leave so I could have bonding time with my child, I chose to go back after seven so I could start making income again. Going on leave took a big toll on my income, leaving me short half of what I could have been bringing in. I need Modest Needs' help to catch up on our monthly rent after a short term disability.
I'm worried that one of these days we will be so far behind that we will be evicted and have no where to live. With the winter months just around the corner, I want to make sure I can keep a roof over my family's head. I worry I won't have the money to provide the daily essentials to care for my infant, who is just four months old. I am worried and stressed out. I already have anxiety and having to worry about this every day is causing me a lot of stress. As a mother of two, I would love to spend my days stress free and enjoy my days with my children, without worrying about rent.
If Modest Needs donors funds our application we will be stress free, and we will finally be caught up financially and finally go back to the way things were before our daughter was born and I had to take the leave. We will be so thankful, and hope one day we can return the favor to someone else in need. Knowing that complete strangers all over helped us out means so much to me. There's no words to express how I would feel."
For many Americans a single health calamity is all it takes to spell disaster. Medical bills frequently add up to sums higher than rent, utility and gas bills combined. Such is the case for today's Application of the Day, which comes from a hardworking chef in Austin, Texas. An uninsured worker, she was forced to cover the complete cost of necessary surgery after breaking her leg, depleting her bank account until she could barely make rent. She's paid her own way through the medical bills, rent and household necessities, but now needs help covering her car payment for the month. Without help, she could find herself without transportation and out of a job.
She's worked hard to stay afloat alone--now she needs a little extra help getting over this hump. Read on to hear her story in her own words, and for a link to help her get caught up and back to work:
"I am a 43-year-old, single professional chef. I recently broke my leg and had to have surgery. I am uninsured, so I had to pay for the surgery upfront out of pocket. The surgery drained my savings and all my money for rent and bills.
I need Modest Needs' help making my car payment this month. I did not expect to have to pay for all my medical expenses up front and did not have enough savings to cover it all. I barely made rent this month. Now there is nothing left over for my other bills.
I am trying to keep a positive attitude but it is really hard when you are worried about bills, especially when you are trying to recover from a serious injury. I am already having problems getting around due to the surgery. If I lose my car I'll have no way to get to and from doctor appointments, my job or even the store for groceries. My livelihood is at stake.
I am currently working hard to make ends meet without help. I run a catering company but have been temporarily sidelined by this injury. While I heal, I have been taking on freelance web design clients in order to supplement my income. I also sold my TV and Blue Ray player to make last months rent. If I can hold on just a bit longer, I will be back to work full-time and am sure everything will be ok.
If I could get help now, I will have what I need to make it through recovering from my surgery and to not fall into a hole that I will not be able to crawl out of. It would mean the world to me to not have my life ripped from under me. I have been through a lot lately and when you are all alone it feels like there is no one who cares. I realize that there are others with worse problems than mine and I am generally a strong person, which is why it kills me to have to ask for help. I am asking anyway, only because I truly need it. Thank you in advance to anyone who can help."
Today's Application of the Day comes from a single mother of two living in Arkansas. A breast cancer survivor, she has fought hard for her health and independence. Both have recently been threatened, however, by another medical expense that has left her unable to pay this month's mortgage. Without help she and her family will be at risk of eviction.
Scroll down to read this mother's story in her own words, and to make a donation that will help this family get back on their feet in the new year:
"I am a 42-year-old breast cancer survivor and single mother with two children still at home. Over the past four years I have been through numerous treatments (chemo, radiation) and surgeries (bilateral mastectomies and a complete hysterectomy). Both of my parents passed away (my mother died of ovarian cancer when she was 48) and I have no other familial support to count on. I am a bookkeeper and I just signed up to go back to college in the Spring to finish my associate's accounting degree.
I need help with paying December's mortgage. Last week, I had a surgery to repair a hernia. My recovery has been excruciating. I worked all throughout my chemo and radiation treatments and only took a couple days off for all of my other surgeries, so I thought this time would be like all the rest. When I checked out of the hospital, they told me I should take two weeks off, doctor excused. I just figured I could take it slow and still work, but the pain is really bad. I'm going to have to take it slower than I thought I would have. I still plan on working, but I'm not going to be able to work as many hours, which will make getting the mortgage paid on time impossible. Please help. I am a hard worker and I am far from being lazy by any means.
If my family doesn't receive help with our mortgage this month our electricity and gas heat will be shut off for non-payment. (I will have to use the money for those bills to pay the mortgage.) I won't even have gas money to get to work to make what little money I can. We will be squatters in our own home.
After finishing all of my treatments for breast cancer I've finally gotten to the point where I'm trying to plan for the future instead of my imminent demise. I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, a light that wasn't there for so long. I plan on finishing up my degree and getting a good job with health benefits and sick leave--simple luxeries that so many others take for granted. One day, I will make enough money to be able to save and hopefully give back to others less fortunate than I.
Funding my application through Modest Needs will give me and my family an excellent start to a new year filled with promise and a bright future. As a cancer survivor I am starting my life over, fresh, and I am looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. I can't wait until the day that I can afford to 'pay it forward' and do something life-changing for someone else. Thank you for helping us if you are able.
Today's applicant of the day wants one thing: the ability to speak again.
In spring 2011 a stroke took this man's mobility and voice. With hard work and determination he has begun to overcome this catastrophic event. One thing still evades him, however: his own voice. Paralyzed by the stroke, his vocal chords need focused therapy to work again. While this kind of therapy would normally cost thousands, our applicant has found a speech therapist who will work with him for a reduced rate due to his financial situation. All he needs now is a modest amount of funding to get talking again. Modest Needs is already three-quarters of the way to funding this grant. Can you help put us over the top? Read on to read this applicant's story in his own words:
"After a massive ischemic stroke in April 2011 that paralyzed me and deprived me of vocal muscle control--a condition called vocal apraxia--I am making a remarkable recovery. Right now I move a limb an inch more a week, which is excellent. My overburdened wife Ofelia, 60, is my primary caregiver; together we are moving thru rehabilitation and into independent living.
I need your help getting speech therapy to give me my voice back. In-home speech therapy is the sole 'cure' for my loss of speech-function. It is prohibitively expensive and impossible to find a pathologist who can make 'house-calls' which I require. That I HAVE found one, and that she has reduced her hourly rate (from $100 to $35/hr) in acknowledgement of my financial hardship is a miracle.
Due to my paralysis and my wife's obligation to be my caregiver we are on the fixed income of my SSDI and food stamps. There is no extra income to support my needed therapies. We still have many bills to pay and insurance does not cover the cost of speech therapy.
The first year after a stroke is the richest window for theraputic recovery to take place. Every year after we heal more slowly. To be able to have repeated speech therapy ASAP would have a huge impact on my recovery and life.
We are extremely fortunate to have found a speech therapist who is willing to work with me for such a steeply discounted rate. In addition to negotiating prices, we have also reached out to volunteers for assistance and attend stroke support groups to benefit from peer experiences. We are doing everything we can to come back from this stroke and not fall behind on our bills at the same time.
If we can just get this grant I will be able to secure the rare services of a speech pathologist who will treat me in my home. Please--your help would mean so much to us. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts."
"I can't afford to be homeless with so many people depending on me to take care of them."
Today's application of the day comes from a single mother and grandmother who has worked hard all her life to provide for her family. She holds two jobs to help support a household that includes three of her four children (the fourth is a Marine stationed away from from home), and helps give back to her community by working with developmentally disabled adults. Things were going okay for the family until their car, an absolute necessity, broke down. Now this mother is faced with an impossible decision: use what money she has in the bank to fix the car--her only mode of transportation to get to work--or pay the rent. Her choice is between joblessness and homelessness. Read on to learn more about this mother in her own words, and to discover how you can help save this family:
"Hi, my name is Susan and I have four children and a granddaughter, all who live with me. My oldest son is a Marine so he is not living with me right now, but comes home occasionally on leave. I work with developmentally disabled adults. I also have a second job filing at an insurance company. I have been a single mother for 18 years and have always worked hard to provide for my children.
I am asking for help with a repair bill for my car. As a single mom the biggest stresser to me has always been my car! I have never had a new one and I seem to have the worst luck with any car I have owned. This car just shut off last week while I was driving with my son. My car is my only means of transportation for so many important places--my children's doctors appointments, getting to and from two jobs, etc. I also need it to be safe for my children and granddaughter. It would help me so much if you would consider my request for help with my car repair.
At this point the money I have in my bank account is to pay my rent. If I used that money to pay the car I would not be able to pay my rent. I always try to put my rent first because I can't afford to be homeless with so many people depending on me to take care of them. We absolutely need this car to survive.
I already work a part time job. At this point I have no time to work any more jobs because I help with my granddaughter, my daughter is trying to go to school at night, and I need to be at home to take care of my 8-year-old son. I am, however, going to try and save a few dollars a month for unexpected expenses such as this.
We would so appreciate it if you could fund our request. I try to be a good person and always have a smile on my face! It is just a wonderful thing when people reach out and help other people...it is something I am trying to teach to my family. I try and teach them how important it is to be a good person. It would be so wonderful to show them what happens when good people come together to help those in need. Thank you for considering this request."
The safety net for hard-working individuals is shrinking. While costs of living--rents, food prices, utility bills--have risen significantly over the past three years, government funding has not, leaving aging or disabled Americans in the untenable position of having to make ends meet on small assistance checks.
Today's Application of the Day comes from an elderly couple in the exact situation mentioned above. Married for 50 years, the couple lives off modest Social Security payments. As costs of living have increased, their Social Security check amounts have not, forcing them to borrow money from their son in order to stay afloat. Even with assistance, however, they are unable to pay their gas bill this month, leaving them vulnerable to the cold this winter. Read on to learn more about this couple in their own words, then click the link below to help keep them warm this winter:
"My husband is 72 and I am 70. We have been married over 50 years and have spent all of our life in this community. We are living on Social Security retirement with modest help from our eldest son as a short term loan.
We need help with our gas bill. The cost to heat our home has increased each year, but retirement benefits have not kept up with inflation. This most recent fill will not last until spring. If we do not receive help, we will not be able to heat our home properly. This will impact our heath.
It's hard not to worry how we will make ends meet. Medicine and doctor visits are expensive. The price of everything goes up except our benefit check.
This summer my husband and I gardened our land for vegetables to eat during the winter in order to save money. We also provided some to others in our community. We try to live inexpensively.
It would mean a lot to receive help from Modest Needs to pay this expense. At our age we are doing everything possible to make ends meet and truly need this help with a basic necessity. We are limited due to our age as to what we can and cannot do. You are kind to consider our request. Thank you."
Today's modest need is practically the definition of neccessity: a place for a family of five to go to the bathroom.
Previously self-sufficient, this family fell on hard times when their only vehicle and household septic system both gave out within weeks of one another. While they were able to obtain a loan to cover the cost of a new car, they've been unable to find the funds to fix their broken septic system, ultimately rendering their bathroom unusable. They've been relying on friends, neighbors and public restrooms when nature calls ever since. Today, their request is simple: help them raise the money to fix their septic system so they can use their own toilet again.
Read on to learn more about this family's modest need in their own words, then click the link below to help:
"I am a homeschooling mother of three. Our children are 13, 9, and 7. My husband and I have been married for 17 years and he works at a hospital doing I.T. work. We are very blessed that our family is healthy, but we are in a real pinch with our septic system.
We need Modest Needs help to afford a septic system repair bill that happened completely out of the blue right before winter set in. We are unable to use any water or the toilet until the problem is resolved.
This is a completely unexpected expense. We have lived in our starter home for 11 years now and things have been working up till the last few months. A few weeks ago we had plumbing problems that needed to be fixed. Now, suddenly, the old leach system that was in place stopped working and everything is backed up. We budget very well, but this is a sudden expense that we just do not have the money for. Our van died a couple months ago and we had to buy a very modest used vehicle which the bank was generous to give us a loan for. That expense has made it impossible to cover the cost of this new problem. My husband has been trying to carpool to work and we changed our cell phone plans to limited calling to save money. We are trying our best to stay afloat.
Times are stressful as we have been taking the family to the neighbors, friends, and public places to use the facilities. We have been determined not to let the children know how concerned we are about this dire situation.
This funding would really help us out of a hole. We have been married for 17 years and I can't remember a more difficult financial time. It would mean a great deal to myself and our family. Please consider our modest need if you can."