AN UNEXPECTED CHANGE
Arthur and Olivia never expected to return to parenthood in their golden years, but after their daughter abandoned her five children, the couple took their grandchildren into their own home. While they were happy to step in, feeding five extra mouths on a limited income was something that Arthur, an army veteran, and Olivia hadn’t prepared for. After they experienced a cut to their social service benefits, the family was unable to pay rent, gas and electric bills, and could no longer provide enough food for the entire household.
It’s a common scenario for too many families in Maryland, where nearly 21 percent of households with children struggle to obtain enough food to provide regular, healthy meals. Many adults earn low wages that don’t cover food costs for the week and are forced to make choices that can lead to poor nutrition or hunger. To add to the challenge, some seniors must choose between buying food and paying for medicines.
Arthur and Olivia were referred to the United Way’s homelessness prevention program, which specifically targets families with school-age children who find themselves facing hard times. Case managers provided financial assistance to prevent the family’s electricity from being turned off, assisted with financial counseling and advocated on the family’s behalf with the Department of Social Services. Eventually, the family’s social service benefits were reinstated.
These days, Arthur and Olivia say their lives may not be exactly what they anticipated, but with help from United Way, their larger-than-expected family has a much better quality of life.