“Without LCOC, I would be on the street.”
“I just can’t catch up.”
Ann sighs over the phone, explaining a cascade of woes that seem almost impossible to absorb.
Three years ago, her daughter was murdered only days before she was scheduled to testify in a case involving the violent invasion of her home. The man accused of that crime was arrested in her death but not convicted because of insufficient evidence, partly because there was no witness.
Beyond the indescribable pain, the murder and subsequent trial took a financial toll as Ann traveled repeatedly off Cape, often missing work.
More recently, Ann’s boyfriend was diagnosed with a brain tumor that has incapacitated him. Following surgery, he lives with chronic pain and disability that keeps him from working. Ann’s fulltime job barely pays for the couple’s monthly bills, including $800 for a one-bedroom basement apartment.
Often, she must leave work to take him to the hospital and doctor’s appointments.
“There are days when I can barely catch my breath,” she says. “I don’t feel sorry for myself, so I don’t want anybody else to feel sorry for me. But there are days when I just don’t have answers anymore.”
She does have support, though. Lower Cape Outreach Council has been by Ann’s side throughout her travails. That help reflects the spectrum of assistance LCOC provides to thousands of neighbors each year.
It has helped pay Ann’s rent and car insurance. It has provided Christmas gifts for her grandchildren. It has opened its Food Pantry to her.
“I truly try not to rely on LCOC too much. I only ask when I absolutely need to, and I am more than happy to volunteer there to pay back as much as I can,” she explained.
“But, without LCOC I would literally be on the street.”
This year, LCOC will distribute nearly $1.5 million in financial assistance to about 2,000 clients alone – not including other services like food and clothing.
Many clients are working poor earning $8 to $12 in hourly wage jobs, kids who are out of school and out of work, and young families who want to build their lives on Cape Cod but struggle with low wages and high rents.
“We help families catch up on their rents because if you lose your housing on Cape Cod, there are no affordable alternatives. We encourage them to use our food pantries and free clothing store and concentrate their incomes on maintaining the home,” explains Gennie Moran, LCOC’s chief operating officer.
“We go on to provide them with mentoring, emergency financial assistance, a jobs program and even tuition assistance so they can build more self-sustaining futures.”
“Half of our new clients are seniors. Some are raising grandchildren. Others are what they call “house poor” meaning they have a home, but also spend the vast majority of their income fighting to hold on to that home,” noted Moran.
Before all this happened to Ann, she never imagined asking for help. “Never had to,” she said. I’ve always been self-sufficient.”
The first time she visited LCOC, she was “nervous and embarrassed, but they immediately made me comfortable,” Ann recounted.
“They made me understand that somethings just are beyond a person’s control. I work six, sometimes seven days a week. Besides my fulltime job, I clean homes in the summer,” she explained.
“On top of that, I am caring for my boyfriend, making sure he is taking his medications, driving him for treatments. He can’t stand for a long time and he has a hard time remembering things now. It’s like an extra job for me.”
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