Suffering in Silence
"There's a stigma to asking for help. I find the older people are more worried about the stigma part of it because they are proud.”
Mardgo Swisher knows her community well, and as the Service Extension Representative for The Salvation Army she has unique insight into how the lingering pandemic and rising inflation are affecting the local population. In Mardgo’s community and others across Indiana, a growing number of seniors living on fixed incomes are facing hardship as prices for groceries, gas, and utilities continue to rise. All it takes is one unexpected medical expense or car repair to put older Hoosiers at risk.
In Orange County, Mardgo works directly with seniors in need to ensure that they do not go hungry or have their utilities disconnected. She usually starts by paying $100 toward an overdue utility bill, which frees up cash for groceries, prescriptions, and other living expenses.
Thanks to a generous donation from the local JayC, Mardgo is also able to provide $25 gift cards to help cover food and household expenses when money is tight. Mardgo has found that many seniors are hesitant to ask for help and worry about being perceived as a burden to others. They fear losing their independence, but she always tells them, “If you could help somebody else, would you?” When they answer yes, she adds, “Well just think of this as passing it on. When you can help someone else, you will.”
Recently Mardgo helped a woman named Carol, who is in her 80s and lives by herself. While Carol's four children would take turns driving her to doctor visits and the store, they couldn’t help much with her tightening budget and medical expenses. When Mardgo let Carol know that The Salvation Army could help, her relief was clear.
“Almost immediately you could see some of the stress go out of her face,” Mardgo recalled. “It was a touch of relief for her. We’ve got a rapport now and if she ever needed something, she would tell me. Even when I see her away from The Salvation Army she’ll wink at me, and I just find that so sweet. She trusts me and she knows that I’m trying to help her.”
In another case, The Salvation Army was able to help an older man named Charles who was recovering from a broken hip. His doctor and therapist were located far from his rural home and Charles needed help purchasing the gas necessary to make the 200 mile round trip. Mardgo provided both a check for the local gas station and Jay C food cards to ensure that Charles was able to get the nutritious food needed to heal.
Every day Mardgo is out in the community, keeping an eye our for seniors who may be suffering in silence, wary about asking for help. Thanks to your generous support throughout the year, The Salvation Army is ready to be the blessing that seniors need when times are tough.