I’ve made it no secret that my family is among the “working poor”. When I filed our taxes this year I literally stopped and said a prayer of thanks because somehow we made it through the year without starving. At our income level, it should not have been possible. I don’t have fancy statistics to use today, but I have our story, and I promise you that we are not unique.
My husband started a new job 12 days ago. As he’s still in training, he can’t miss any time. (He doesn’t ever want to miss; he has an incredible work ethic) but he is very sick. Also, because of his job change, we are without health insurance for a month. Why? Because, although COBRA was a great idea, it’s just not possible for us to pay $1500 for a month of coverage. Here in our community we have several health clinics that cater to low income and uninsured patients with sliding scale fees and prescription assistance. These clinics and their services, though, are in high demand. You can’t get a same-day appointment, which I feel like he needs. A) I’m pretty sure he has pneumonia, and B) He needs to get started on medication today so he’ll feel better by Monday, when he has to work again. The other issue today is that these clinics are, for the most part, open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. What do you do if you happen to have a job?? Those are my husbands exact work hours during training. Are there others that have gainful employment that keeps them from the assistance they need? I know so.
You also know, if you know us or have read my blog, that we work with our church‘s food pantry. We are open each Wednesday, from noon until 3:00 p.m. We hand out thousands of pounds of food each month, and we have bonus meats and we take advantage of the Kansas Food Bank‘s food rescue program that gives us fresh produce and breads to distribute. We are, honestly, doing some great things! But I know of a couple girls that used to run in from time to time, just before we locked the doors. They were both taking CNA classes at a local tech college, and most weeks they didn’t get out of class in time to get food from us. We’ve had church members call and ask if we could pack food for them to pick up on Wednesday evening because they won’t be off work in time to come before we close. I don’t know of a food pantry in our city that has evening and/or weekend hours. These people could use the help, but we aren’t available when they are.
I have yet another example from our family just this week. We participate in the WIC program under my sister’s name, but I always end up gong to the appointments for her. Since she drives a school bus, she has her morning and afternoon routes but she can also sign up for extra hours in between. She takes advantage of that option so she can get more hours, but it comes at a price. She can’t make it to the WIC office when they’re open. WIC’s stated mission is this:
To safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.
It’s hard to help those with low incomes if you’re not available when they are, in my opinion.
I could go on and on with examples, but you get the point. If you want to be available to visit the DCF/WIC/Health offices or food pantry, make sure you don’t have a Monday-Friday, 8-5 job. Sometimes I wonder if we’re not hurting the very people that need our help most.
Is working so wrong?