As a result of the downturn (and that's putting it mildly) in the economy, non-profits across the country are discovering the same thing: that those who have never asked for assistance before in their lives are now forced to seek help. And article that I ran across online spells out this very phenomenon in the suburban Philadelphia area:
"We see a lot of people who have never asked for assistance before and never thought they would need to ask for assistance now coming to the food cupboard for food and emergency service," she said. "People who have regularly donated to us are now coming in for assistance."
Demand for food at the cupboard has increased dramatically over the past several years. In 2008, the food bank served 1,280 people. Last year, it served 3,021. That's an increase of 136 percent.
"This is the worst I have ever seen," said Kucera. "I think it's the economy and people are losing their jobs. We have everything from homeless people to those with a Ph.D. coming to us. This is the situation now."
"People are living in quiet desperation," said Jay Malthaner, executive director of Good Neighbors. "They know they don't have the money to fix anything. They don't think it will ever get better. We're seeing an increase in home ownership in the Hispanic community. And we're seeing an increase in separation and breakdown of families and a lot of younger mothers and small children trying to eke it out in trailers and small homes. It's one thing to get food on the table, but to try to come up with $5,000 or $6,000 to fix a room is almost impossible for these people."
We at Modest Needs have experienced the very same thing. People who were once regular donors to our foundation were suddenly asking how to apply for help. They still are. And often they tell us that they waited until things became so dire that they didn't know what else to do.
Sad, but true.
And while the newspapers and politicians and economists might be saying that the U.S. economy is on the rebound, we at Modest Needs are still seeing requests for help from people who have never had to do so before. Every day.
For those of us who are employed, we have luck on our side. Qualified, tenured, experienced, dedicated people were laid off or downsized or bankrupted out of jobs, and despite all their hard work, they are now faced with losing their home, their health, their car, their livelihood.
Don't mean to be a downer, but it's a good reminder for those of us employed with our heads above water that even a small donation of $2, $5 or $10 can change the life of someone who very easily could have been us.
[Photo by GrowWear]