This is the fifth installment of a six-part series spotlighting the work the CPS Children and Family Benefits Unit (CFBU) Liaisons (several pictured above) do in helping students and their families gain access to the assistance available to them. Following is a story of a real-life person that CFBU was able to help. For more information about the CFBU click here or call 3-KIDS (773-553-5437). The last installment will run on March 6. Read the previous stories in the series here.
Story written by Sharon Davila, CFBU Liaison at Hibbard Elementary School; with CFBU since December 2007. For a full list of CFBU Liaisons, please click here.
Mrs. N from Hibbard School called my office to apply for food stamps (now referred to as SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) because, in a matter of a few short months, her life had turned upside down.
She felt ashamed because she never imagined that she would be in a position to need assistance. Mrs. N said that she believed in working hard and providing for one’s own family without any government assistance. Both she and her husband are very well educated and take great pride in providing for their two sons. Unfortunately, the recession hit her family hard. Mrs. N’s husband lost his job in real estate and her own hours as a translator were cut. This drastic drop in her family’s income meant that she didn’t have enough money for groceries.
In addition to not knowing how to put food on the table, Mrs. N also did not know where they would be living as her home was being foreclosed. The stress of not being able to make ends meet began to take a toll on her marriage. On top of everything else, Mrs. N was afraid that she was going to lose her husband, too. Mrs. N was afraid that she would not qualify for assistance or that it would take too long for her family to receive the much-needed aid.
She had to convince her husband, who has been unemployed for more than a year, that applying for SNAP was their only option. Fearing that she would lose her husband as well as her house, Mrs. N felt terrible. It had been a great while since she received any good news.
One evening, Mrs. N went to Walgreens and became very distraught because she could not afford a gallon of milk. She felt depressed, hopeless and helpless. She prayed for a glimpse of hope. The next day, after she came home from work, she opened her mail and was overwhelmed with the joy of having received her LINK (i.e., food stamps) card! She no longer felt shame, guilt or embarrassment. All she felt was a feeling of relief as her family no longer had to deal with the burden of not having enough food on the table.
Last week, Mrs. N called me to tell me that getting the LINK card had been very helpful in reducing the stress in her marriage. She stated that she is now more positive and encouraging to her husband as she assures her family that as long as they have each other that they can face anything together.