August 19, 2008
People on the Front Lines
One of the most unique and meaningful aspects of the tzedakah work the Good People Fund is involved in is having the ability to step in when a family or individual encounters a crisis situation. We believe that if we can lend a hand before things spiral out of control, a more desperate outcome may be diverted. Having individuals "on the frontlines" – people we know and trust, and who know and understand what we want and believe, are critical to this very personal type of tzedakah. When they see a difficult situation that can be resolved expeditiously they know that they can be in touch and, if we have the resources, we will ask them to act on our behalf and arrange for the needs to be met. This can be an overdue utility bill, past due rent, a food emergency or medical bill…the list is endless.
This was the case one day last week when we heard from one of our "agents" who described a very sad situation involving a single parent with two children. While making ends meet was always difficult, she now owed her landlord for past months’ rent (he was threatening to take her to court), and also had substantial bank debt. Working with our contact and the social worker assigned to the family, we were able to pay the past due rent immediately. Within only a few days the landlord received his check and was no longer threatening suit. The donor who made that possible also wished to help with the overdrawn bank account and recurring interest, and it was decided that the woman would receive this help after she agreed to take a simple no-cost mini-course in money management and also actively sought some further part-time work. Our contact and the social worker agreed that while the help was needed, it should come with some responsibility on the part of the recipient.
The ability to act, and act quickly in these types of situations is just what makes our work so meaningful. Though time-consuming, there is a definite "high" associated with keeping a family or an individual intact at difficult times.