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One Step from Financial Catastrophe: The Difference a Fresh Start Makes

Sherri Carinder’s husband divorced her when their kids were 3 and 5 years old. While her relationship with her ex remained amicable, the vast majority of the parenting fell to her. She always maintained a full-time job but not one that paid enough to meet the financial demands of raising two young children without help.

When her parents died, she lost her entire support network. Now she was living without a safety net.

Sherri was able to keep her footing and pay the bills as long as everything went well. But she lived one step away from financial catastrophe. If the hot water heater or an appliance broke down or if her car needed repair, she’d fall behind on her bills.

She’s not the only single mom forced to ask herself which bills she should pay, and which could be put off.

Often healthcare was the first to go—passing on lab work or an x-ray her doctor prescribed or a trip to the dentist for the kids.

She considered a second job. Maybe she could pick up extra work at night? But then who watches the kids and helps them with homework? And besides, how much does a second job really pay once you pay the babysitter?

It’s hard to ask for help. “There’s such a stigma attached to being poor,” Sherri told me. On top of that is the anxiety of trying to keep it together and protecting your kids from knowing more than they need to.

In the difficult times, Sherri wouldn’t pay the utility bill. Then came the letters threatening disconnection. Somehow it always worked out and the lights never got turned off. But she knows the desperation, anxiety, and prayers that come with financial struggle.

On Easter when she heard about the fundraising effort to pay off the bills of everyone on Columbia’s Disconnect List, she was moved. With her voice cracking, she told me she knew this gift would mean “everything” to the people who received it.

On behalf of those whose power will not be turned off, whose debt will be paid, and who will be given a fresh start, thank you.

Your generosity has brought the joy and hope of the resurrection in a dark time.

Jesus: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Christians should be so heavenly-minded that they bring God’s love, justice, and mercy down to bless their local communities. Wondering what that looks like for you in your community? Here are 5 ideas.