That is a sobering and sadly common refrain from individuals and families who have been brought to their knees by the housing market crash, unemployment or other Great Recession byproducts. Many of them had no idea where to turn. Even more still waited for weeks or months to seek assistance due to shame or denial or simply a lack of know-how. Once rock solid incomes are now vansished. Fear of asking for help is prevalent. As is evidenced by this passage from a report about the sky high rate of poverty in the suburbs:
Elizabeth Kneebone, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, who conducted the analysis of census data told The New York Times, "The growth has been stunning. For the first time, more than half of the metropolitan poor live in suburban homes."
The Times looks at Cleveland's suburbs where 60 percent of the cities poor now reside, up from 46 percent in 2000. Unlike urban centers where the poor are often accustomed to assistance, out in the once prosperous suburbs, residents are reluctant to ask for help.
Churches offering assistance will post a member at the entrance to the drive, assuring people who drive by that it is OK to stop and receive help.
And demand is way up. The Cleveland Food Bank doubled its distribution to six counties between 2005 and 2010. The Food Bank's director Anne Goodman told the NYT that among residents, "There's this sense of surprise. This feeling that this has got to be a mistake. It has got to be a bad dream."
This unfortunate reality is why it is so important to spread the word about Modest Needs. There is a lot of shame and embarrassment that comes needing financial help in this country. So much so that people will wait in agony for months before their situation becomes so desperate they have no choice.
You can add a link to our website as your email signature. Post a link on your Facebook wall. Mention it to your book club or church group. There are tons of ways to spread the word about Modest Needs in creative ways that don't make anyone feel singled out or ashamed. Try it; you'll see. You never know whose life you might be saving. Find us at modestneed.org.