The Changing Face of Need

May 8, 2020 | by Doug Donahoo

You may think you know what need looks like. A gaunt face. Torn, tattered clothing. Sleeping for the night under an overpass. While that view of need is still prevalent in our society, the COVID-19 crisis is drastically altering what need looks like today.

The sudden, dramatic amount of job losses across the country is having an immediate impact on millions of families who have never found themselves in a place of acute need before. They suddenly must ask where they will get groceries. How they’ll pay the mortgage. If they’ll be able to keep the lights on.

“They’re the ones who don’t have any idea how this works because they’ve never had assistance,” said Kimalee Carroll, case manager at The Salvation Army Northland Corps. “And they’re the ones who say, ‘We’re doing okay but we’re just one or two paychecks away from not being okay.’”

A long-time case manager with The Salvation Army, Carroll has experienced helping people during the Great Recession of 2008 but sees an even bigger impact on the number of people she’s offering assistance to today. People who have never come to The Salvation Army in need of assistance before.

“A lot of people are finding themselves in a situation where they have no idea of what is out there or how to access it as far as help and support goes, and also have a feeling of a sense of pride and don’t want to do it,” Carroll said.

When they do come to a Salvation Army corps community center, they find a dedicated staff ready to offer what help is available, whether in the form of food from the pantry or money to help pay the mortgage. Many who reach out for assistance are doing so before their situation becomes desperate.

“This group that I’m describing is also very proactive, so they’re not waiting until they get disconnect notices,” she said. “Same with rent, they are the ones who are contacting me on April 5 for May’s rent.”

In the midst of the fear of uncertainty, there will always be signs of hope. Kimalee remembered a story where a white-collar executive who found himself furloughed called asking those very questions of where he would find food for his family. The corps provided him with food from the pantry, but the true gift was a pre-packaged meal that was in the industrial refrigerator.

“I said, here’s a special meal for tonight,” Carroll said. “He said, ‘It’s my wife’s birthday tonight. She’ll love this.’ That was really cool.”

Kimalee was able to chat with the man some more and find that his financial fears extended to being able to stay in his home. “He said I have a mortgage and I told him that gets a little trickier but let’s take a look at it. Luckily, his mortgage company was great and they worked really well with us.”

The face of need may change, but no matter what, The Salvation Army will be there to meet it head-on and help people win, thanks to your support. Your donation today can provide hope for families who never thought they would be here before.

And, if you’ve been impacted by the pandemic, click here to apply for The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 related Emergency Assistance.

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