Monday, December 3, 2012 in , ,

Personal Caring - Our Mission of Gratitude

Sometimes the things you don't know about someone might really surprise you.  Things like that their favorite food is brussels sprouts, that their middle name is Gertrude, or that they had a large collection of pet rocks in their formative years.

What if someone you knew wasn't able to afford food for their family right now?  Do you think they would tell you?  You might be surprised if you knew who was in need of help.

Four years ago my family couldn't afford both food and our mortgage.  For an entire year through the economy struggling and the beginning of a divorce I had to accept donations from local pantries in order to keep our household together.

This is probably not what you would expect.  From the outside it looks like I have a successful business and life going well, and right now I do.  Back then, though, things were a lot more tenuous and the economic meltdown hit us hard. 

My first foray to a pantry began with a once a month trip to the local Urban League chapter.  Anyone could go and receive 2 bags of food per month.   As the year progressed my then-husband's job gave him a recession related pay cut and my business continued to suffer major losses.  Soon a couple extra items didn't cover the gap as our finances became more stricken. 

We didn't technically qualify for food stamps - it looked like our family made too much money.  But the debts we owed and our dwindling income was just not enough to support our needs.  By spring we were almost entirely dependent on whatever we could procure on a biweekly basis from Our Lady of Perpetual Help and later in the year the St. Liborious Pantry.

I was hustling to find extra work but until I could do that the help tided us over and made it possible to keep our mortgage paid and out of jeopardy.  If I had lost the house Blissoma would have been gone too because it is also our office and production space.

Four years later I still have a house and my business is growing.  The temporary assistance helped us leap the gap between a crisis and the road forward. 

The important takeaway from this experience was the humbling knowledge that this could happen to anyone, and that in those moments of extreme desperation when you really need HELP the help you receive is sweet indeed, even if it is meager.  Government cheese, old bread, and canned veggies don't seem so bad when your other option is to give up on your entire home and work life.

My year of assistance also expanded my compassion greatly.  When you become one of the poor and see what life is like for those who desperately need assistance you realize how un-fun it is to be that hard up.  It's not pretty or glamorous.  No one would really choose a life at the bottom of the barrel, sometimes it just happens to you.  

If you are fortunate enough to have the resources to pay for your needs you are blessed indeed.  At this holiday time when everyone is thinking about the gifts they'd like to receive it might do well to remember that others would be happy just to have a nice bar of soap and maybe another box of macaroni.

My intention has been to pay back the assistance I accepted in work, food, and money, and hopefully far greater over time than what I initially used.  My current life would not be possible without the aid I received in my time of need.  That deserves a big thanks.

I wanted everyone to hear our story, and know that what you give through your local pantry drives makes a difference to someone.  You might be changing the course of a life for the better.  Those that gave to my local pantry blessed my family and business with another chance.

For the month of December Blissoma has created a campaign by which through your participation we will give our quality basic personal care items to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the pantry that helped us years ago.  We are asking for your help in sharing this mission, sharing our story, and helping us continue to grow so we can do more.  You don't have to purchase anything to participate - just enter and share the campaign.  In return you'll get a discount on our products and a chance at over $200 in gift certificates as a gratitude grand prize.

To read in full about our campaign and participate visit our Personal Caring app tab on Facebook.

You can also read the poem and blog post that I created at the end of our year of assistance, after I had time for the experience to soak into my psyche.

I hope you never need to accept pantry assistance.  But, should that particular path come to you, it will be such a comfort to know that help is there.

I wish you the happiest of holidays, and a table that is always full with food and friends.

1 Comment So Far:

warner said...

Beautiful post P.

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