Written by Kara V. Miller
Every day, including the #52Tuesdays of the year, nearly 200 families seek help at Crisis Assistance Ministry. The independent non-profit agency has a 40+ year history and a noble mission: to provide assistance and advocacy for people in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency.
Nearly every day, there is a story like William’s to tell.
William was living his American Dream: Beautiful wife, doting daughter, large house and well-paying job in the mental health field. But when frequent chest pain started to get in the way of his day-to-day life, William received some troubling news from his doctor, “I realized at that time that I had an enlarged heart,” William remembers, “My doctor told me if I hadn’t come in that day, I might have died that same night in my sleep.”
His declining health made continuing to work impossible, and William suddenly found himself unemployed. As financial struggles led to marital stress, he lost his house and then his wife. Instead of a comfortable salary, William was now struggling to get by on just his social security disability checks.
Now in the red, living in a single-bedroom apartment and sharing custody of his daughter, William’s next obstacle, he says, was to overcome his pride, “I knew Crisis Assistance Ministry was the place I needed to go,” he continues, “Truthfully, if they hadn’t been there, I would have been homeless some months ago.”
As a former mental health professional, a successful author, and an avid traveler, it was difficult for William to sit on the other side of the desk and ask for help.
“As I was sitting in the lobby, I saw different families–single parents–and it was breaking my heart. Here I am, I’ve been a caseworker for over 18 years, and I’m sitting here [on the opposite side of] this place where I’ve been all my life.”
Because of the support of the community, payments made directly to his landlord and utility company stopped William’s immediate crisis. Next, William entered the agency’s economic mobility program, working with a caseworker for 90 days on things like budgeting, goal setting, and identifying resources to rebuild stability.
According to William just being heard and listened to was perhaps more valuable than the financial assistance he received. “It puts a warmth in your spirit–in your heart–just knowing there’s somebody who’s listening,” he says. “They don’t just care about your financial need; they care about your well-being.”
With Crisis Assistance Ministry's support, William was able to remain housed during his medical recovery. Now, he has a new job that doesn’t put strain on his heart and allows him to provide stable housing for himself and his daughter.
William is finally back-on-track, but each day more families seek help to avoid homelessness and live with dignity in our own community.
That’s why Crisis Assistance Ministry is wrapping up the summer with a Non-Event Gala. It’s a fun concept with a serious goal. Instead of throwing a gala and inviting supporters to invest in fancy clothes, babysitters, and rideshares to attend, Charlotteans are invited to make a direct gift to help families like William’s in the midst of a crisis. There’s even a playlist for the virtual celebration along with virtual emcees:
By supporting the #NonEventGala, your contribution will “Grow Hope as Charlotte Grows,” keeping families housed with their basic needs met as they rebuild their future.
Crisis Assistance Ministry is a long-standing gem in our community. It’s a place where the community comes together to help each other out – to meet basic needs like rent, utilities, clothing, beds, and furniture; to foster economic mobility through counseling, coaching and support; and to educate the community about the realities of poverty in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
With your help, on all #52Tuesdays, during the Non-Event Gala, and throughout the year, families on the brink of homelessness can continue to find help, hope, and understanding at Crisis Assistance Ministry just like William did.
You can see more stories of lives changed and futures saved, with the help of the community, at crisisassistance.org/ourstories or make a gift before August 31 to plant seeds for the future during Crisis Assistance Ministry’s Non-Event Gala.