I have known the great folks at Encompass Ministries for many years. Sometimes as a client, sometimes as a donor, all the time as a friend.
It was early in 2007 when I felt I was at the bottom. I needed help and I needed food. My husband was in the military and was deployed most of the time. Essentially, I was a single mother, raising two small boys; one who had expensive medical issues. He was allergic to almost all food. On a large part it was trial and error to realize what made him sick. As it turned out, he was diagnosed with several autoimmune diseases as well as autism. I was devastated but determined to do my best for him.
As you can imagine, there were lots and lots of doctors’ appointments and tests. We couldn’t keep up with those bills, and a roof over our heads, and food too. It was humbling to ask, but I remember being welcomed by the sweetest people who genuinely cared about me. I immediately knew it was a safe place and I could trust that they had my best interests at heart.
I needed to come to the food pantry from time to time. They offered to help me find a job that I could do around my children’s schedule and help me understand my budget and cash flow a bit better. I wasn’t ready yet to let someone really help me deal with the true underlying problems that prevented us from living a financially stress-free life because I wasn’t ready to admit to myself.
In 2012 the time came when I decided to give their program a try. If only I had listened to them sooner! I began with budgeting and realized there really wasn’t enough money. Then it was time to recognize my need for a part time job to make ends meet. As with life, there were ups and downs over the years. Encompass was always available when I needed help. I could always rely on their good guidance and the encouragement they would give. We truly had become friends.
A few years later, my husband filed for divorce. I was completely shocked! I knew we had our issues like any couple, but I never imagined it would end in divorce. It was a terrible time for me and my boys emotionally as we just couldn’t understand why this was happening. I wasn’t sure how we would survive. I couldn’t show my boys my fear because they needed their mother to be strong and resilient. I knew that we would have financial issues losing my ex-husband’s income. Thankfully, I remembered my amazing friends at Encompass. I reached out to them and set up an appointment with Faith. There were no back-up plans. I had to get this right for my boys to ensure they had a good future.
I began working with Faith in the training department. She helped me land a job that could support us and helped me understand my money. Not just watching it go into my account and then back out but being in control of it! “To the Penny” was my new motto. She taught me the importance of putting money aside into my emergency fund. I did so faithfully every two weeks. You never know when there will be an emergency car repair.
I paid down my debt and had just paid off my last credit card from the divorce. Things were looking up! I planned to build my savings with the money that was no longer going towards debt!
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that a world-wide pandemic would hit and cause me to get laid off my job! For the past 7 weeks I have been trying to get unemployment, but so far, to no avail. They are back logged on processing payments. As a single mom, I have no income for the first time in many years.
I turned to the training and savings I was taught years ago sitting in Faith’s office. I read Lynne’s blogs on wise ways to spend the stimulus money and followed that advice. I immediately cut any additional spending and tightened up my budget. I paid only the essential household bills. I utilized Encompass/ Papa’s Pantry grocery support for my now two teenage sons.
All these years I have taught my sons that it’s okay to ask for help and to give back whenever possible. Since school, sports, and summer college tours have been cancelled, my oldest wanted to continue being active in our community, safely. He began making anti-viral sprays to use in place of hand sanitizers. He wanted to donate some to Encompass, a ministry that has helped us many times over the years.
Today, I am grateful to have been a part of the Encompass family. Through these last several weeks, I’ve been tapping into my emergency fund. Thank God I had it in place to help me and the boys now! Thank you Encompass for all you have done for me and my family. You’ve always been there for us!