Do you remember the children's book, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Vorst? My story is "Nan and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad 6 Months". This experience has certainly drilled home that none of us are very far from crisis living when we lose our sole income and cannot find work to replace it.
Some hide the fact they struggle. I do. But today I am reaching out. After three years working for a non-profit in Maine, my job contract was not renewed in January. This non-profit did not pay into unemployment insurance because it is not mandatory to do so--at least here in Maine. There was no severance pay offered. However, I persevered. After a dark winter and 5 months of struggling to find work in any field, including retail and fast food (I am a 64 year old woman and, yes, even for an outdoor educator there is still ageism in hiring practices in this country), I signed up for social security 18 months early. Doing so meant keeping my income lower than $14,000 for all of year 2017, and limited the employment I could take, if offered work. I simply pulled my belt a bit tighter.
In April I contracted Lyme Disease and Lyme Carditis, But I did not qualify for my ACA health insurance because my income was too low. There were(and are) expenses for my ongoing Lyme Disease and Lyme Carditis treatment even though my primary care phyician is the local free clinic open for 3 hours on Mondays only,
Yesterday my car was repossessed. A repossessed car means I can no longer look for work or do anything else in this very rural county that has no public transportation. To retrieve it is nesasary, but may as well be a million dollars. I was trying to work with my bank to refinance the car to a lower monthly rate or get long term help (a 6 month hardship deferment until January and continue to pay a small amount each month until then)
It is easy to see how job loss (no matter your age) can be the starting point of crisis living--no job and you struggle to pay rent, your car payment, your car insurance and you lose your health insurance. You lose your car, and you can't work, so you struggle to pay rent. Add a health set-back on top of the loss of job and the spiral begins as you sit on a waiting list that can take months or years to climb in orderto get into income-based senior housing in an area where there will be future work (in this case Portland, Maine or Portmouth, New Hampshire).
I see how people find themselves "sleeping rough" when six months earlier they were getting by, thank-you very much, and paying bills and taxes like they have all their life.
I am far from the only person to find themself in this situation or worse, but it leads me to ponder about this nation I live in and what it means to be one of her daughters; the friends I have across the world (thanks to being an Aloha Foundation daughter, and spending six years living in Scotland as an adopted sister) and how so many close and far have said, "Ask for help when you need it even when it is difficult". "People like to help". Now I am asking for help and even more importantly, copius hugs.
Love is love is love is love is love......!
- Dana and Dan Grossman
- Eric Hall
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