Julia Gingrich (Mennonite Volunteer Service Client Counselor)
When Susan came to us, she released the stress of her situation through tears. Several weeks after her husband quit his job and left her and their three children, she was laid off from her work at a local factory. Like many others in her situation, Susan was facing difficulties in receiving her unemployment benefits. She came to us carrying an eviction notice and legal papers advising her to be present at an upcoming court hearing. The situation was desperate, but Susan was persistent in seeking out support from a wide circle of friends and strangers. She was facing eviction for her inability to pay lot rent, but she was also in the process of purchasing the family’s mobile home.
She shared her story with the person from whom she was buying the modular homer, and they told her that she didn’t have to make payments on it until she had passed through this difficult time. Because her young adult son was working enough to make car payments, Susan had transportation to come to CCS and share her story with us. Unfortunately, the support that we provided, along with the support from another local church and the Township Trustee, still left Susan short of the amount she needed to prevent eviction.
I was pondering the gravity of Susan’s situation on my way to work one afternoon. As I approached the office, I ran into Susan and her son in the parking lot. She reported that a friend of hers, who recently received her tax returns, was lending her the remaining money she needed to terminate the eviction proceedings. She also shared that she received confirmation from her employer that she was returning to work the following week.
The stability of Susan’s situation remains fragile; there are no guarantees that “all will be well” for her and her children. Walking with Susan through the frightening terrain of unemployment has helped me to cultivate a greater capacity to live with hope while remaining grounded in hard realities of these difficult days. It has also reinforced my conviction that hope is found in the compassionate, creative actions individuals, congregations, and neighborhoods are taking to support those most impacted by the current economic realities.