Referred by Albemarle Department of Social Services, Greg* first called Love INC asking for some blankets or comforters for his teenage daughters — and, if available, he also needed a washer and dryer. On a very low income, Greg was only receiving Supplemental Security Income, the type of Social Security assistance often given to those who have never worked. He had received Rapid Rehousing funding to get him into the rental unit he had found in the county, as well as receiving food stamps and energy assistance. Sadly, in every way he fit the profile of many Love INC clients, locked into poverty by a crippling disability.
Thankfully, our staff found him a washer and dryer through a Crozet Baptist Church volunteer. Household items were made available through generous donations given to Love INC, the result of a labor of love by Mr. and Mrs. Falconer. They had patiently cleaned out a home belonging to a couple, fellow First Christian Church members.
With his current needs met, we did not hear from Greg again until the following winter when his vehicle needed some repairs. This time, Lauryn found him help through CARES and social services, putting him back on the road.
Then disaster struck Greg. In the spring he suddenly lost all the financial support that was keeping him and his family together. The wonderful Rapid Rehousing money was pulled from the agency that was paying Greg’s rent — the supporting agency actually folded after being in Charlottesville for over thirty years! Now, Greg was looking at having to pay the full rent on his home, more by hundreds of dollars than he received on SSI.
Then a few days later he received word from the Social Security office that the money he had received from Rapid Rehousing was being counted as income by SSI and his check would be decreased $300 per month to pay back that income. This double blow sent Greg into panic mode. He called Love INC.
Since Gregg was initially a referral from Social Services, we at Love INC did not really know him. We only knew that he had moved here from another part of the country and that he was suffering from depression. In the process of exploring his options, the staff person started to gently probe why he was now in the position he was in. Where had he come from? What was his life like before? Had he always been on SSI? When did the depression begin? Slowly his story began to unfold.
His downfall began when he lost a very lucrative management position during the economic recession. The firm he worked for went bankrupt and he lost his job. He maintained his living situation by working another type of job, but when a personal crisis crashed into his life he became depressed, lost his livelihood and his home. He was working a couple nights a week for Live Arts in Charlottesville but that was also being counted by SSI as income.
A very different picture of Greg began to emerge. He had not always been depressed and in poverty. He actually had many skills and gifts and a good educational background. Over several phone conversations, the staff person began asking Greg why he was settling for this as his life when he had so much going for him. Greg was encouraged to look at himself as the capable and gifted person he really is. The staff person also prayed a lot about this. Certainly there was no funding to bail out this man and his family.
Then a week later, Joe from Trinity Presbyterian Church called Love INC. They had started a new program at Trinity working with employment issues for several within their church and they had room for another person. Did Love INC have anyone that could benefit from an employment assistance program? Did we ever!! Greg was put in touch with Joe.
So what happened? Greg first was helped to apply for a job doing something he loved and was very good at but had never mentioned to anyone before. Within a couple months he had found a position with a company overseeing a number of projects. And he was still working the two part time jobs that he enjoyed so much. Further more, Trinity eventually assisted with the rental issue.
We can only say a huge thank you to Joe and the Trinity folks — and an even bigger thank you to our Lord who saw fit to bring redemption to Greg’s life.
As a side note, Trinity Presbyterian has been a partner (and founding) church with Love INC since 1991.
* Names of those served have been changed throughout the newsletter to protect confidentiality.