This morning we went to church. As part of the ceremony we have candles of communion; where we share joys and concerns with the rest of our community. I lit a candle for the 90 folks who are going to lose their job in the next week at a local factory. Another woman lit a candle for her son who just lost his job. Another woman; a single mother of 2, said she lost her job 6 weeks ago and has 35 dollars to her name.
The service was sponsored by the Social Justice Committee. There was a brunch afterward to help raise funds for the church's emergency heating fuel fund. The fund was able to give 100 gallons of heating fuel to folks in need last year. This year, we are only able to give 50 gallons; with the hope that these folks in need can get LIHEAP heating assistance.
I left the house this morning with a bag of non- perishable foods and outgrown sweaters and hats for the food cupboard at church. Our fund for the food cupboard is empty and we rely on donations ,only, now.
All of this hits close to home. It is not just that the headlines report another half MILLION jobs lost in December or that billions of dollars are getting sucked up in the black whole of banks' balance sheets. It is the small stories of how this financial crisis hits closer to home.
My memories as a child in the seventies during the hard recessions was of standing in line at the surplus food stores. My mom saved green stamps. I remember waiting for her to be seen at the welfare office. We bought our clothes at the Goodwill. My grandmother made some of our clothes. But I was young and these experiences had no context. As a kid I thought that was just the way the adult world worked.
Later on in the early 90's when the recession hit Maine, there were hard times. Downtown Portland became the picture of many downtowns. Empty Storefronts. But my economic situation was stable. I had a minimum wage job. I was poor but living with roommates. Everyone I knew was in the same boat but we always had a few dollars for beer and our look was retro thrift store. We worked in restaurants so we could be fed for free.
Tech bubble burst. No problem. I was struggling but for my own reasons that had nothing to do with Sun Micro Systems or that Dude with the Dell.
These times are different. My husband is a public employee. He is a teacher. This past week the one school that provides our health insurance said that not only have they frozen the budget;but, although they promise jobs for next school year, there will be no promise for the year after. Another school is trying to avoid mid-year layoffs this school year.
We grow our garden. We stock our pantry. We look after our neighbors in any way we can. There but for the grace of god (dess)....