Several years ago my life was moving fast and I was a typical American. In our family we spent what we made, putting nothing aside for a rainy day. Our children had numerous activities and I had only recently made the switch from a stay at home mom to a working mom. Little did I know my life was about to undergo a series of unfortunate events worthy of a movie. You never know how quickly you can lose everything. Most Americans are one paycheck away from financial disaster.
My downfall began with the untimely and unexpected death of my younger brother. Soon after my mother began to go blind. I made the decision to quit work and care for my mother. Little did I know this was the beginning of losing everything I had but my family. Over the next couple years I experienced many other personal struggles, however the biggest came when the Government closed down and my husband found himself out of work. This man, a Marine Veteran, who took an early out in the 90’s and had been a government contractor for over 20 years, and had prestigious awards from HUD, could not find a job. Within thirty days our credit crashed, we had no money, we could not pay any of our bills, our cars were repossessed and we were on public assistance.
In America there are people who go without water, electricity, heat and food. I learned this lesson quickly. I experienced it first-hand. I am not alone- I met people from all walks of life that all found themselves in the same situation I was in.
We spent the next couple of years at the mercy of others. One of the agencies that helped us was ACTS in Dumfries, Virginia. It was there that I found some of the most caring individuals I have ever met. They provided me a sympathetic ear, information, classes, heat, water, electricity, food, and hope. This agency helped pay my utilities when I had no other options. They helped put food on my table. Although we received snap the amount that we received was not enough to provide nutritional meals for my family. Their classes provided me critical information on budgeting, couponing, job searches, and nutrition.
My husband and I wanted to work. We searched for jobs but found ourselves in a group of people that no one speaks about, job seekers who are older and have bad credit. Two strikes. We applied to jobs only to never hear back. Finally I took a class at ACTS on resume writing. This class changed my world for the better. After using the information I learned in this class to revamp my resume I finally started getting calls for interviews. Within a month of taking this class I found myself in a job that allows me to give back to others in the same situation I was in. I now work at the Capital Area Food Bank. This agency helps provide food to over 120 food pantries in Northern Virginia. The best part is giving back to the agencies that saved me, in particular, ACTS.
I don’t regret the three year journey that has brought me to where I am now. It has taught me patience, empathy and to open my eyes to what is going on around me. It brought my family closer together. It taught me home is where your family is not the building you live in. It taught me happiness is not what you have but who you have to share your life with. It taught me that helping someone can sometimes be something so small but mean so much. I have a sincere gratitude to ACTS for helping me through the most challenging time in my life. For listening, caring and eventually rejoicing with me in my success on finding a job. They were there for me every step of the way. The people who work there really care about their clients and want them to succeed and get back on their feet. Their help goes beyond the basic necessities of life.