We’ve written at length in InTucker about the difference we are trying to make in our Tucker community through the CARES Act. Now we can proudly report we are not trying to make a difference, a difference has been made.
The CARES Act is a federal program designed to aid individuals and businesses who were harmed financially by the coronavirus pandemic. There are several facets to the program here in the City of Tucker: rent/mortgage assistance, utility assistance, virtual learning support and small business grants. We are seeing successes on all fronts, but one story in particular resonated with your city staff.
It comes from the work being done by our partners at NETWorks Cooperative Ministries. They are teaming up with us to distribute much needed funds to hundreds of people across Tucker. It’s not always money; they’ve held food drives and hosted people in search of job training. They’ve done some amazing work. But they were able to help one Tucker resident who took a little bit of financial aid and was able to avoid falling into homelessness.
Reprinted here is an excerpt from the letter of gratitude that Tucker resident sent us. We are keeping her identity a secret but thank her for sharing this powerful story.
“Congratulations! You’ve made 36 on-time mortgage payments!”
A credit bureau sent me the email the same day my employer told me the world’s COVID fears had become our reality. Current work assignments were “on-hold” for 30 days. I didn’t panic that day, or the next day, or the next week. Panic didn’t set in until 30 days became 60. Those 60 turned into 90. Unsure of what to do about my bills, I filed for unemployment. The first two checks contained the additional stimulus payment and I was able to cover one more month’s mortgage payment, but once the stimulus stopped, it would take four entire unemployment benefit checks to cover one month of mortgage.
Mortgage meant just that – nothing left for food, electricity, or even the cell phone I kept willing to ring with a job offer. The only folks who wanted to talk to me worked for my mortgage lender and their offers of assistance came with a weighty price tag: I could qualify for their COVID assistance but with my mortgage type I’d have to forfeit my fixed-rate mortgage for an adjustable-rate product.
Unsure of what to do, I cried, I prayed, I waited. While looking for jobs, I stumbled across a job-training program for COVID-displaced adult workers. Within two weeks, I was enrolled in their program and approved to begin training for a new career the Monday after Thanksgiving. With one base covered, I wasn’t sure how to keep the roof over my head, and the drop in temperature told me every day that I was in need of a blessing.
A blessing came in the form of a post card from your organization. On it was the news that housing assistance was available in my area. I didn’t know what help you offered, but a few clicks into your website I found the application for the Tucker CARES program. Unlike other organizations I’d reached out to, I received a response almost immediately. The case manager, Jenny, was polite and nonjudgmental with her inquiries into my current circumstances. She navigated what was a point of stress and uncertainty for me with admirable professionalism and care. Her correspondence was the first time I felt hope in months. Her supervisor, Holly, picked up right where she left off. Coming in to complete my paperwork literally brought me to tears. That evening was the first time I slept through the night in over three months.
I can’t express in words how much Holly, Jenny and NETWorks Cooperative helped me to get through this pandemic. I’d surely be facing a homeless Christmas without your help. I can honestly say your organization was the answer to my prayers (Jeremiah 29:11--“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”).
With Heartfelt Gratitude,
A Tucker Neighbor