When I was a stay-at-home parent, I needed government support and non-profit support to help feed and care for myself and my kids. Every time I pulled out my WIC checks, or medical assistance cards, I would glance around to see if anyone was watching. When I would go to the government services building, toting two small toddlers and a baby, there was no red carpet service to make the process smooth, quick, or kind. But, I knew that at least I had options for this service to help us over the hump. But it seemed that swallowing disapproving looks, personal guilt, and rude or dismissive help was par for the course in this system. I swore that if I ever had the opportunity to pay back what was given to me, I’d make the journey kinder, less suspicious, and admirable.
In a larger neighborhood, we don’t always know where to go for help. And when we do find ourselves in need of help, the process is complex, and perhaps grueling. Common practice points us to the church for care when turned away from other sources. Throughout the week, we receive call requests for a variety of care and support. While we do offer spiritual and emotional support, the most practical needs are financial. Most often, the calls are urgent requests for emergency housing, and meals for children. Currently, we offer gift cards to local grocery stores or what we have in the church budget for monetary donations that week. The requests have become more plentiful, and we find that we are turning people away, or quickly scrambling up donations from fellow church members who have offered to donate extra for financial crises. We can do better for our neighbors, and create a better system that is ready to help, instead of ready to turn away.
Here’s our starting idea:
Create a Neighborhood Good Fund
The Neighborhood Good Fund will support all the urgent requests that come to the church for emergent financial support. 100% of financial donations go directly into supporting your neighbors who need urgent financial help. In addition to offering grocery cards—we will take in the requests, and offer what we have based on the request and the bulk of our account. As we develop this system, there will be structures to help manage requests.
Our goals are to preserve human dignity, practice unbiased generosity, and help people flourish.
If you are already donating to another local non-profit, please continue to do so! Our local Salvation Army, Second Harvest Food Bank, good-will, and volunteer services, along with many others, do need your continued support as they can attest to an increased need for support too.
Let’s make the good and beautiful life easier for all to enjoy. And help others feel less guilt, shame, and dismissal in the process.
Let’s do our best,