Identity theft can happen to anyone but it is often the most severe when it affects people already living on a low, fixed income. We had a client that came to us explaining how her finances had been compromised and her meager $735 SSI disability check had somehow been routed to a different account. She had reported the issue to her bank and the police but she was on her second month of zero income. If the average person tried to live on zero income for just one single day they would feel the pain. She was looking for help with her LGE and we were able to assist with that bill. While discussing her current issues we determined that we should get her into the medication program as well. We were able to cover her medications for several months in a row. She was extremely grateful for our assistance and stated that she would be sick and frozen (it was winter at the time), if we had not helped her. She has called back to thank us on multiple occasions.
My name is Jeff Oeswein and I am a member of the SLCM Board.
While learning about SLCM, I was really impacted when I read their mission statement.
“To empower our neighbors in crisis and move towards stability and self-sufficiency.”
The word that stood out for me was “Crisis”. When I thought of “Crisis” I immediately thought about world events or cable news channels using the word to grab your attention.
But when you place that word and all that comes with it onto an individual or a family it takes on a whole new meaning.
It made me think…..What if we could help stabilize someone’s moment of crisis? Keep that someone from losing their job and moving onto public assistance, help a mother pay the gas bill so she can give her 2-year old daughter a warm bath, deliver a warm meal to a elderly widower who just lost his wife, or provide a diabetic man his medication so he can continue to go to work?
SLCM is South Louisville’s safety net. We care for those falling through the cracks of our society.
It also is more than a safety net, it’s the helping hand pulling you up and out of the net. Setting your feet back on the ground, allowing you to move forward.
The staff at SLCM does this on a daily basis and is an oasis of hope for those with little to no options left.
I recently read that where the poor, the broken and the discriminated are, is where you will find God. Well, I can say that God’s work is being done on a daily basis at SLCM.
South Louisville needs SLCM and to do so, we need your continued financial support. Know that your continued support could be changing the course of someone’s life in a very positive way!
Thank you so much for caring about South Louisville Community Ministries.
Imagine being forced to flee from your beloved home country due to war and widespread daily violence. Your children and spouse face constant danger and staying in your home is not an option. Now picture yourself coming to a new country where almost nobody speaks your language and you occasionally receive dirty looks for simply speaking your native tongue. The world around you is like nothing you have ever seen. The food, cultural norms, weather, currency and even music is like night and day compared to what you have experienced. These would be extremely hard obstacles for anyone to overcome. You arrive in a new country with the help of a refugee agency who assists you for the first few months. After their assistance expires you are on your own in this new environment. It is nearly impossible to find work immediately when you have a limited ability to speak the language. You are enrolled in English classes, but securing income becomes the next challenge you must overcome. This is the crisis situation facing several of the families that we serve.
Recently, we received a call from Kentucky Refugee Ministries on behalf of a Syrian family looking for assistance with rent. With the aid of an interpreter, we were able to determine their need and schedule an appointment for financial assistance. The family consists of mother, father and five small children. The mother came in for the appointment because she has best ability with English, but she only knew a few key words. We did not have the interpreter for the appointment so we used an online translator as much as possible. It is not as precise as desired when translating from English to Arabic so hand signals and drawings filled in the gaps. We contacted local churches on
behalf of the family and reached out for other assistance to help them. Thanks to the generosity of local churches and funds from Metro government, we were able to collect several hundred dollars toward their rent and advocate with their landlord. In addition, we assisted the family with needed canned goods and fresh produce, as well as baby supplies and information and referrals to other local resources. We were able to stabilize their situation for at least thirty days while they establish themselves, and continued their English classes.
Even after experiencing war, dangerous travel, and many challenges to get to the United States, many families like this one face unforeseen obstacles even after they arrive. What we see across the desk, however, is a determined desire for security, economic stability, and the pursuit of happiness.
Latanya came into the ministries on a cold January day with her 5 month old in her arms and her four year old in tow. Her situation was dismal – she lost her job right before Thanksgiving, and was looking for work, but her car had been repossessed. Family members could not be of much help as they, too, were struggling. Her money she had saved for paying bills was stolen. She owed $525 in rent and $172 on a disconnect notice from LG&E. Thanks to generous donations and grant funds, we were able to get her an extension on her LG&E, and we worked out a partial payment plan with her landlord for her rent. She left our office with a strip of TARC tickets and a referral to our job coach. Her appreciation warmed the hearts of all of us at the ministries.
SLCM was contacted by a young man looking for assistance with his LG&E bill. He lives with his mother and brother, but his mother is suffering from terminal cancer. The two brothers are unable to work because they cannot afford hospice-type care, and she needs around-the-clock help. They are new to this country and didn't know where to find help. In certain situations, LG&E customers may qualify for a medical extension with doctor’s notification. Sadly, they could not even afford to visit a doctor to get such documentation. Luckily our partners at LG&E referred them to us. The Financial Assistance Coordinator was able to schedule them for an appointment right away. The oldest brother came in on the mother’s behalf (the bill is in her name). The bill was almost $400! We still had funding left from our Community Winterhelp program (which is provided by LG&E and their customers) so we were able to cover more than the average amount. The family receive$100 from ministry funds and another $250 from our special grant funds. The client was able to come up with the remaining $30 due, so we got it paid off the next day.
We told him about other services we offer such as our Dare-to-Care food pantry. He went home with a food order that day as well. The client expressed his deep appreciation for our services and was happy we were there to "catch them before they fell". Imagine a terminally ill person being forced to live part of the end of their life without A/C, lights or refrigeration. Unthinkable! The good news is that the eldest brother mentioned that his younger brother was going to be starting a part-time job that could help cover some of the bills in the future. We have not heard from the client to know whether or not the family is coping better but he was optimistic when leaving the office and optimism goes a long way.
SLCM received a call from a woman inquiring about glasses. I scheduled her to come in for a glasses voucher. While meeting with her we talked about the current issues in her life. Heart problems, chronic pain and LGE being past due. She lives alone and scrapes by on her monthly SSI. I mentioned our ability to assist with utilities as well as medications. She was unaware of any of our services besides our assistance with glasses. She happened to have her LGE bill with her. It was an amount we could handle so we were able to get her back in good standing with LGE too. She was floored at all the assistance we offered and was extremely grateful but it doesn't stop there. We talked about her medications and she came back in a few days later with her meds so we could get her added to the medications program. SLCM was able to cover her co-pays at Cox's pharmacy so she could get her nerve medication to end her constant pain. She came in only seeking glasses and we ended up taking care of a range of expenses she could not afford.
I often hear from our clients that they only need one-time assistance to "get over the hump". I rarely hear back from clients to know if they really did get back on track...but she called back. She stated that her life was on the edge of collapse before coming in but now things were looking up. Her pain was manageable, she had electricity and could SEE again! She thanked myself and the organization profusely and she continues to receive help from our medications program each month. Our mission is "To empower our neighbors in crisis to move toward stability and self-sufficiency". I believe we achieved exactly that with this client. It is heartwarming to hear back from our clients, especially when it is a success story such as this.
A family was referred to the agency by their caseworker. The “Acosta” family recently came to the US from Puerto Rico. Mr. Acosta’s wife has two children from another marriage. The father of these two children passed away tragically in Puerto Rico 3 years ago. Mr. Acosta accepted custody of these two children and married their mother. They now have two other children together. Mr. Acosta has had a difficult time finding employment since coming to the US neither he or his wife speaks very good English. Their children speak better English than them. This has been a large obstacle for them in finding suitable employment. His caseworker has been trying to help him locate employment, but it has been difficult. I met with Mr. Acosta on a Friday afternoon. We were going to be closed on the following Monday in observance of a holiday. When Mr. Acosta came into the office, he owed over $215 on his LGE account. Normally I would have sent him to seek church pledges in order to pay the remaining balance, but he was due to be shut off on Monday and we were going to be closed. I left the family alone for a minute while I went upstairs to speak with our Deputy Director. I asked if there was anything we could possible due given the circumstances. The agency had recently received some pledges for another client, but we could not use them. We ended up using theses pledges toward Mr. Acosta’s account and they were the exact amount in which he needed. I explained to him that this is not standard procedure for us. He was extremely grateful for our help, and came to tears while I was finalizing the pledge to keep his LGE connected.
“Our church—Our Lady of Mt. Carmel--appreciates the fundamental support that South Louisville Community Ministries provides our neighbors and friends. We gladly partner with South Louisville Community Ministries in assisting our South End individuals and families to meet their basic financial, emotional and nutritional needs.
This partnership is experienced weekly by church members who deliver meals to senior citizens through the Meals on Wheels program. It is demonstrated by our food closet volunteers who stock shelves, deliver bread, fill grocery carts and unload the Dare to Care truck.
The dedication of the staff of SLCM enables our parishioners to financially assist our community residents who consistently request financial help on a daily basis. By partnering with SLCM we can "stretch our congregation's dollar" to provide emergency financial relief to more of our neighbors. Also during the person's appointment at SLCM, they can request on site counseling to effectively resolve other personal issues. Finally our partnership was easily arranged and can be copied by all other churches/organizations/groups in the South End.”
“John” walked hesitantly into SLCM and immediately apologized for his appearance. “John” resembles a bouncer – large, bald, and covered with tattoos. He wrongly thought that “as a church organization”, SLCM would have a problem with that. A year ago “John” had his own landscape business and was taking care of himself. He proudly declared that he had been sober for several years as well. His ex-wife had their son, but he saw him often. Suddenly that all changed when he was in a terrible car accident and damaged his rotator cuff. He was unable to work for several months, and when he finally went back to work, it was too soon and he re-damaged his shoulder. He had to sell all of his equipment to pay bills. Then, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to have surgery and chemotherapy. One day in the midst of all this, he received a phone call from the police in a bordering county. His ex-wife had just been arrested in a meth lab bust and his son had been in the lab at the time. “John” immediately drove to the hospital where he used the rest of his limited funds to pay for his son’s health care. (His ex-wife had let the boy’s health insurance lapse.) Now “John” is spending his days taking care of his son, testifying against his ex-wife in court, and dealing with his most recent health problem-diabetes – while still hoping to return to work as soon as possible. SLCM was able to provide “John” and his son food, diabetes supplies, and payment for his September rent.
I was fortunate to be able to retire in early 2013 after many years of ministry. While that part of my calling has ended, I have been inspired to respond to continue to use my experience and gifts of time and treasure to serve God through the marvelous work of South Louisville Community Ministries as a volunteer. While I was working, I was able to substitute as a food packer occasionally and work on some special projects, so I knew I wanted to be part of the “regulars” at SLCM – volunteers who show up week in and week out to serve our clients.
I serve as the Monday morning receptionist and love helping clients get the information and appointments they need. I also serve on the Church Relations Committee, working with others to strengthen our ties to the large community of Christians who work together to care for neighbors in the south end. Our churches and pastors are amazing – sharing canned goods, grocery bags, critical financial resources, and dozens of faithful volunteers. Recently I have been coaching some of our clients who are seeking employment. It is so exciting to be able to help someone complete a resume, learn about an online application process, or practice interviewing skills. I love being part of the wonderful South Louisville Community Ministries team. The work is challenging, but immensely rewarding.
I was sitting at the receptionist desk one day when a family came in to pick up some food from the pantry. The two children played in the children’s area, while their mother filled out the paperwork and the social worker packed up the food. Shortly the grocery cart was wheeled out and the children rushed up to see what was inside. “Look mom, there’s SOAP!” the youngest exclaimed. Watching a child become so excited to receive such basic items as soap, toilet paper, and a new toothbrush opened my eyes to the real basic needs that many of our clients face.
What would you do if you lost your job or had medical bills that consumed your income and savings? How would you pay your bills, who would you turn to, and how desperately would you seek assistance? These are the questions facing our clients every day. In the past couple of months, we have truly been amazed at the steps individuals in crisis will take to receive our help. Here are two such situations. . .
A friend called for “Margaret” because she was in tremendous need of rental assistance but was suffering from pneumonia. He planned to come for her, however, at the last minute was unable to do so. Fearing eviction, she checked herself out of the hospital against doctors’ orders and came into our offices, weak and crying.
One day recently, the receptionist answered the phone to find an EMS worker on the other end. “Jane,” who was on her way to our offices for an LGE appointment, had been involved in a car accident. She had been walking to our offices on Southside Drive all the way from north of Churchill Downs, and feared being late for her appointment. She paid a passerby to drive her to her appointment, only to have that car involved in an accident moments after she got into it. Now injured, “Jane” was being told by the ambulance crew that she needed to go immediately to the hospital. She was refusing to get into the ambulance, however, because she was so frightened that she would lose her appointment with us. The EMS worker, therefore, called to request that we reassure “Jane” that her appointment would be rescheduled and our donation would be reserved for her so that she would agree to seek treatment.
Recently during a normal day of delivering meals to homebound seniors one driver knocked on the door and rang the bell, after several tries our driver was not able to get anyone to come to the door. Our driver immediately called our office and told us about the situation. We called the emergency contacts who went out and opened the door to find our senior in the floor unresponsive. The emergency contact called 911 and took her to the hospital where they discovered she had fallen and broken her hip. Thanks to the dedicated and well trained staff we were able to get help where it was needed and get the senior to the hospital. Since this occurred, our client has had surgery to repair the fracture and is working on recovering from this fall. Meals on Wheels delivered more than just a meal that day but provided the help she needed. Many people see our role as only delivering meals but our drivers do so much more. Drivers ask how seniors are doing and provide feedback for emergency intervention. Some drivers offer prayers for seniors and some drivers talk to them providing at least one social interaction per day. Meals on Wheels drivers deliver many services in addition to providing a hot lunch.