Loaves & Fishes’ mission has always been to help individuals and families who are in emergency situations. Over the past 25 years I have been asked many times “what kind of emergency are you talking about?” Well, the first couple of weeks of February were a perfect example.
The weather threatened snow, actually did snow, and then snowed again. All of those conditions caused life as we know it to come to a halt. For most of us it provided “snow days” to enjoy some time off, to observe the rare beauty of several inches of snow that lasted more than a few hours. But for many in our community the weather presented a current and future emergency. The immediate problem is thousands of folks who work by the hour lost wages. Most businesses closed at least one day during the bad weather. And many don’t pay hourly workers for snow days.
I vividly recall some 20 years ago when I had a 16 year old at home who bagged groceries in a local store when an ice storm hit Charlotte. Even though the store was only a mile from the house, I wouldn’t let an unexperienced driver take the car. So my son put on his Boy Scout boots and hiked to the store, only to find the store closed. He walked home and said “Mom, I’m not going to get paid because they are closed.” And I said, “Yes, son I know. You won’t have movie money next week. But the man in the back of the store who unloads the trucks won’t have money to buy food for his family.” Nothing has changed in the last 20 years – thousands of working Charlotteans will have lower paychecks because of the weather.
The future emergency will occur in 30 to 60 days when utilities bills become past due. The extremely cold weather has caused a large spike in heating bills. Folks who are already living on a bare bones budget cannot accommodate a monthly bill that doubles or triples. Again hard choices will have to be made – do we keep the power or gas on, or do we buy groceries? A choice no working person should have to make.
And for those people the mission of Loaves & Fishes really does make a difference.