$550.00/month

A little while ago, I made a plea for some extra change for an unexpected electric bill. Anything would have helped, but the people in our community, and some farther away, jumped in to help. My goal was $400.00, but you tripled that amount. Little did I know, a teen had been aware of our teen siblings’ situation awhile ago, and he made a plea to his church youth group. “I would like to take up a second offering for a girl at our school and her siblings.” They quietly did this for several months, and the pastor agreed to match it. His mother read my post and called me with an amazing surprise. They had over $1000.00! That money was paid directly towards their rent. One man immediately came to my place of work and handed me the $400.00. He didn’t care if I collected more than enough. “They can use it for future bills.” With guidance from Beth, the money will be managed and handled carefully. One person was critical of my plea. “Why didn’t you find an apartment with utilities included?” I did. My friend lives in a rental property behind a business. It is one bedroom. 5 family members share one bedroom. The living room is just big enough for a couch, chair and TV. You can’t open the front door all the way because the chair is in the way. The kitchen is really a kitchenette. The sink is baby sized, and there is no room for a table. There certainly isn’t room for 2 people. This place rents for $550.00/ month, utilities included. Ok, let’s examine that. There is a window A/C unit and 2 space heaters. There is a big square opening in the bedroom where the heat should be, but it is gone. A little kid fits nicely in the space, but the heat is gone. So while she has the “luxury” of having her “utilities included”, how can this even be legal? The kids’ go to school full time, but they all have part-time jobs. Their rent is $400.00 a month, and they expected their electricity to be $138.00/month based on other 3 bedroom units. So for the same monthly cost, the two rentals aren’t even comparable. Beth worked hard to find the kids a safe, nice place to live. Their apartment is a dream. They each have a bedroom. The bathroom is big. Their kitchen is lovely. They are so fortunate. Yes, the town is full of rentals. Are there many openings? No. You take what you can. Beth wanted these kids to be safe. The manager is on site. She keeps the place nice, safe and secure. I hope the owners decide to continue to build in Paris. My friend deserves a place this nice. Our 3 siblings have lived in other places. This is the nicest home they’ve ever had. Before they moved, they shared one mattress. They actually slept on other peoples’ couches. When they were growing up, all they knew was they needed to do whatever they could to stay together. They are currently separated from their 2 brothers, but the boys come to visit. I can tell it hurts their sister that they aren’t living together. She used to spend her Saturdays going from one friend’s house to the next trying to get food to feed her siblings. All she wants is to have her family together. She didn’t ask for this money. It was me. I probably overstepped. I appreciate the response from our friends. I hope to help more people in the future. It’s ok if you don’t agree, just unfollow me…

Mindset

I was raised, like many of you, when my grandparents came from a very poor time (The Great Depression). But hard work and changing times finally paid off. The money began to add up because they were raised to live frugally and make due with what they had. When they had a little money, they saved it for a rainy day. They wanted nothing more that for their own children to have it better than they did. Many of them did. They became our parents. And then Generation X kind of became a hot mess. Well not all of us. There are a few of us who have worked hard, lived beneath our means, and want nothing more than for our children to be more successful than us. When we got married we bought a house with a $6000.00 down payment we borrowed from Dave’s folks. We paid it back in a timely manner. We were anxious for a home. We wanted a dog to call our own. Our first house was a little, bitty house with one bathroom on a quiet street. My mother was very upset about it at first. Her best friend’s daughter was building a new house. We didn’t even investigate if we could build a house. I sat down with out little payment book and quickly realized that our $48,000 house was going to cost us $115,000 after paying back a 30 year loan. We immediately started making extra house payments. We could afford to do it because our payment was way below what they actually “said we could afford”.  A few years later, we sold for a profit and moved up a little. We sold again when the market was in our favor to make a nice profit and buy our “family” home. Why don’t you build a house, Mari?  “Because Mother, I don’t want a house payment.” At any rate, we stayed here, updated it as we could afford it and made it our home. We didn’t demand and we certainly didn’t expect the biggest, best and newest. We were raised to save for that rainy day, and as most of you know, that day came. Yesterday my friend asked me sarcastically, Tell me how that kid, working part time jobs, can afford that car?”  The simple truth is that he can’t. If you watch one episode of Suzi Orman, you know he absolutely can not “afford” that car. When I was fresh out of college, I went car shopping. I found the car I wanted. It was red. It was new. It was loaded. Little did I know, my dad had already found my car. The car that I could really afford. We had a little chat. I agreed. Within 6 months, I had paid that car off. It was the same car I had picked out, but fewer bells and whistles and it was used. I loved that car. I started saving my money. When Dave and I borrowed that money from his parents, we actually had the money. It just made me nervous to take out that much money from our savings. I already had the mindset of needing it for an emergency. Somehow we need to turn our thinking around. We have too much stuff. We buy frivolously. Banks let us borrow too much. Our cars are 2010’s. Dave’s is pitiful. I keep saying that he will get to trade next. He could walk into any dealership and get any car that he wants, but he won’t…

Voice

I usually write as a response to something that has happened or was said. Not too long ago, I wrote The Forgotten Ones. It created a lot of interest, and great things have happened in a very short time. I cannot believe the people who have handed me money, no questions asked. I am just a voice. Beth and Staci work daily with these kids, and without them, I would have just written a blog. Thank you!!!!!! Thank you for trusting me and Staci and Beth. Thank you Brenda, Angi, Tanner, and Laken for quickly stepping up as well. Thank you, Angi for saying, “let’s stop talking about this and do something”. We did. But without our caring, trusting friends, neighbors and community (and beyond), we would have nothing. I appreciate the ones who inquire about our kids! Someday I will write more about them. There are rules, regulations, and roadblocks sometimes. Trust me, someone is doing the leg work. Before we ask for money or goods, we have exhausted other avenues. When I came on board, Beth had already done the legwork for the kids’ apartment. Why Maple Ridge? Well, first of all, Kara! She is the manager. She is THERE! She cares about her community. She makes them tow the line. It is peaceful, lovely and safe. These kids are living in the nicest place they have ever lived. They have lovely neighbors. I have personally met 2 of them. They are women a little older than me. If the kids needed them, they would be there. They welcomed them with open arms. This is not some dump where they use space heaters and have to argue with the landlord over and over again to spray for roaches, bedbugs and fleas. This is a HOME. A 3 bedroom home where there is a closet just for the washing machine and dryer. They pay $400.00 a month. They work closely with Beth to budget. When they saw their electric bill was higher than expected, they applied for second jobs. We hope to help more kids. We can do this with your help, support, love and prayers. Thank YOU for trusting us and believing in us. And thank you for giving me a voice…

Best Christmas

Here is what I learned from my son being critically ill. I felt the kindness and love of many people, some complete strangers. If nothing else, we felt their prayers. You don’t have to give a fancy gift or a big check to be kind, generous or caring. Sometimes just a hug, prayer, kind words or a smile is enough. When Jake was in Intensive Care, I was afraid to leave his room. It was 2 months before I knew where the cafeteria was. They sent up protein shakes with his meal tray, and I survived on them. One day a lady from the hospital stopped by to visit. I didn’t know her, but she was checking in on us. She had coffee, a muffin and fruit for me. I was scared to death, alone, needed a shower, but at that moment, I felt so appreciative and surprised by her gesture. She continued to check in. For 2 years she visited us. Jake finally told her, when she asked, that he’d like some Dr. Pepper. She brought a case. Jake received gifts from complete strangers. They were the families of Rose students. I was overwhelmed by the love and support of our community, friends, family and strangers. Recently I wrote a blog about The Forgotten Ones. We have formed a group, and in a very short period of time, we have made a difference. I’m not surprised by the generosity of people. I’m amazed at the people who trust in us and trust us to do good things with their donations. I am thankful for Staci and Beth, the two women who work every day with the kids we are working to help. I trust them. I am thrilled to be able to be a voice for them, and I am especially thankful for the trust people have given our group. We are making a difference. People have beds to sleep upon, couches to relax upon, clothing and shoes. Maybe, for once, they feel like they’ve been wrapped in a big hug, like somebody gives a damn. People get into situations they can’t control. It’s easy to sit back and criticize. Until we’ve walked in their shoes, we’ll never fully understand. But for those of you, who want to help, to ease a little of the burden- thank you so much! If you have nothing to give, give your prayers. They are felt too. This is probably going to be the best Christmas of my life…