Irene’s Story

Irene a Cape Cod native, met her husband, John, a Florida native, at college. After graduating and working around Boston for a few years, they decided to return to the Cape to work, save for a home and eventually start a family. They rented a house in Harwich and their plan was to have saved enough by March of 2021 to buy a home.

Then March 2020 arrived and with it, the shutdown. Due to the pandemic shutdown, she lost both of her jobs—one as a special education teacher and one as a girls’ rowing coach. Thankfully, her husband was considered essential personnel at his company. Although they did not lose all their income, the loss of her salary and coaching fees meant they would scramble to pay bills and there would be no house purchase in the near future.

The Cape Cod Council of Churches referred them to Lower Cape Outreach Council (LCOC), who, according to Isabella, “helped us be able to get fuel oil, as our tank was completely empty. They were incredibly helpful, a blessing really. They were so quick to act when we ran out of oil, the burner even had to be reset. ‘What do you need and when do you need it?’ was their immediate response.”

LCOC contacted a local oil company to deliver 200 gallons of oil, so necessary in the cold and damp March days. The Council also helped with an outstanding electric bill. These were Irene and John biggest financial troubles at the time and the assistance allowed them “not to get in a hole that they couldn’t come back from,” said Irene. She added, “They were just incredible. They never ever made us feel uncomfortable about asking for help, which is such a hard thing to do. We are so thankful that programs like Lower Cape Outreach Council exist. They helped us and they have helped so many other individuals and families I know”.

Irene has recently started a job as an administrator at a local church. She knows that a house is out of range for them right now for two reasons—the loss of her income for a year and the high prices and demand for houses on the Cape. The loss of income meant that they could not qualify nearly enough to compete in the current housing market.

Thankful that they are once again both working, paying off remaining bills and looking forward to saving towards a house when the prices are better, Isabella says “We are incredibly grateful for their non-judgmental assistance. Without Lower Cape Outreach Council’s help, we would be looking up from a very deep year-long financial hole. Instead, thanks to them, we still have hope that we can buy a house and start our family in the next few years.”

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