In my marriage, we've experienced a lot of financial ups and downs. Actually, to be honest, more downs than ups, but we've seen God work in amazing ways throughout those trials. We've learned a lot, and sometimes we've had to kick ourselves for wondering why it has taken us so long to learn some hard lessons. We've never had a very large income, and as my husband, AKA Electrician Extroardinaire, is still in his first year of apprenticeship, even though we are doing much better than a year ago, we're still working with a tight budget.
When you are really low on funds, it can be hard to walk into a food bank and ask for the help you need. That is pretty much a last resort for many people. If you are in need for food and can't afford it, please, go and get some from your local food bank. You do NOT need to feel ashamed. Any one of us could easily be in the same boat....all it takes is one crisis in anyone's life to be in the same need.
That being said, if you are struggling financially and can't bring yourself to walk into the food bank, or if you feel you are struggling, but not enough to need the food bank, there are other resources in many communities for low-income families. You do not need to be unemployed to use many resources out there. Many programs are aimed for the "working poor." Because the truth is, you can still be a two-income family and be struggling to make ends meet. With living costs that are increasing at a rate way faster than the hourly wage at most jobs, it can be tough. Today I want to share with you some of the community resources I've discovered over the years, by advertising, by using it, or by my line of work when I was employed at a local food bank years ago.
1. Winter Clothing. Many communities have programs for winter clothing for kids, and sometimes for adults. These can range from gently used coats to a brand new suit, with boots and even hats and mittens.
2. Free Clothing. I often see ads for these at local churches. Sometimes they will be posted as an exchange, but usually it's just a free clothing event. You go, rummage through the piles of clothing, and pick what you need. You don't have to produce income statements usually, but might be limited to a plastic bag or two to make sure there is enough for others.
3. Good Food Box. I LOVE that this program exists. It is a Canadian program and is only offered in so many locations. Basically, you pay a discounted price at the beginning of the month, and three weeks later you are able to pick up a box of produce. There are different sizes of boxes and anyone can purchase one. The best way to find out if this program is offered in your community is to google it with the name of your city as it looks like each community has a webpage of their own.
4, YMCA Subsidy. Extra-curriculars for children can add up quickly. For me, I feel it is VERY important that my kids have swimming lessons as it is a life-saving skill. Through the Y, we can do swimming lessons and other programs for the whole family at a discounted rate. You must apply for and qualify for subsidy and produce your income documents, but it is SO worth it. I have been able to watch my kids progress in their lessons which wouldn't otherwise be financially possible at this time in our life.
5. Sports Subsidy. This isn't available in my community, which is a small town, but the closest city we live near has it. Check your community to see if they have something to help you offset the cost if you want to be able to put your children in sports but can't afford the price tag.
6. Summer Camp. There are so many camps that offer subsidy or child sponsorship. If you are interested in a certain camp but don't see any information on whether they offer subsidy, e-mail or call the camp. I had my eyes set on a certain camp for my daughter but the site didn't indicate if I could apply for subsidy. I emailed them and it was confirmed that yes, they could offer a discounted rate!
7. Healthy Smiles Program. Another program I love, especially since there are many hardworking families out there who don't have benefits, and therefore can't afford to take their children (or themselves) to the dentist. If you qualify, this program covers children 17 and under. This is an Ontario based program, but do some internet searching to find out if there is one similar in your area. To check out Healthy Smiles Ontario, Click HERE. If you do not qualify for Healthy Smiles but your child has an urgent dental need, you may still qualify for another program called CINOT.
It can be hard to make that call or ask for help, but whenever I have needed to do it, I often tell myself it's so I can give my kids what they need or what may enhance their life. That thought, as a mom, helps me swallow my pride and do what I feel I need to do. And for the most part I have been treated with respect and kindness from the employees when going through the process of applying for subsidy or a program to help low-income families. So hold your head up high and remind yourself that it takes a good Mom to walk into those places and fill out the application for these types of programs no matter how embarrassed you may feel. One day your kids will thank you for it, and you won't regret it.
Peace & Love. :)