The emergency services centers ask you to wait until AFTER you receive your shut off notice from the utility company before coming for help. When I first started using these types of emergency helps in 94, I was surprised at how dysfunctional these systems are. Why wait for a serious crisis before asking for help, it makes no sense!
But that's the way our nation works. More Americans have had their utilities shut off this year then ever before in history. Those Americans will likely learn, the hard way, how to keep those utilities turned on no matter what.
You may remember, that I got 125 dollars from the Towson emerg. services center toward my utility bill. But, they don't release the monies until after you earn the balance of whatever the total bill was, WHAT?!!
. So, I got a 10 day extension for my shut off notice, then waited until today, (2 days before shut off) to go get the balance of the bill covered.
When I arrived down there at about 8:30 a.m., my neighbor (who came down there for utility shut off too) said, "you should have gotten here earlier." (She is in a wheelchair) I explained that I didn't come earlier because I can't stand for long periods and I knew that arriving before opening would mean I'd be stuck standing in a line outside.
There were about 50 people applying for assistance today. One can get food or util. assistance or both. Some of these centers are particularly depressing to visit and really drain me. I've always found this particular center a very stressful one to visit, so I haven't been for 2 years. (when I had the car)
In the past, when I had the car, I wondered, how are carless people supposed to walk home with all of these heavy bags? I couldn't do it.
Well, when I arrived, I was turned away (given a raincheck) for utility assistance, because they had run out of money. I was told to come back on July 10th. I told her that they are due to shut me off on 6/28; and she said "no, they won't turn you off immediately!"
I was sent into a mildewy, humid, unair-conditioned basement of the church with about 30 others to wait for food. I waited for 2 hours. The center is an 8 block walk from my apt. I was having a hard time breathing and wishing I had my inhaler, which thank goodness I haven't needed very often.
Anyhow, even though I had a wheely cart I could only fit about 1/3 of the food in it that they gave me. That's o.k. because 2/3 of what they gave me I didn't want, and just gave back to them.
What I turned away:
1 can tomato sauce (i have no noodles)
1 package of turkey gravy
1 bottle of sauerkraut
1 container of chocolate muffins
1 loaf of white bread
a can of evaporated milk
2 jars highly processed jif peanut butter
I told them I was going to give a bunch of stuff back. They reprimanded me saying that I should have told warned my interviewer of that in advance! (can't u just b grateful that I'm not a wasteful person?)
What I did accept:
3 cans tuna
1 box rice krispies
1 can corn
1 jar fresh pink grapefruit pieces
3 cans green beans
2 packages of ramen noodles
1 can chicken noodle soup
The walk home seems to take forever with this heavy cart, but I'm grateful and now the worry load is a little bit lighter. (Now, I have to hide the food in my apt. so the maint. man doesn't steal it from me)
As far as "the simple gifts" are concerned, I feel that I can" survive" as long as I have one dollar fifty cents in my pocket per day. I love to have coffee out! Hazelnut, please. That's the kind of simple gift that makes getting through each day in poverty a little bit easier. Many people with money criticize poor people who smoke, or buy a lottery ticket, or drink. But most humans need something pleasant to keep them going. For some people that's a cigarette, for me it's coffee out.
Would you like to join me?