Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's Time To Reach Out

People in the news talk about unemployment numbers as though they were just numbers. They're not. They're people without jobs.

My husband works for an automotive supplier, and last week he came home every day talking about who was heading home for the last time.

I didn't let on, but I dreaded the conversation we would have every evening. Early in the week, he told me a few people were "let go" with a sense of half-relief. "They usually make all the cuts in one day," he said. But the next day there were more cuts and more and more. By the end of the week, we found ourselves talking about financial strategy.

It was and is nerve-wracking.

Today, the President came out and said that the economy may worsen before it gets better. That may be true, but I can feel my hair going grey and those pesky worry lines on my forehead getting deeper. When I opened this morning's news paper, I saw that John Deere announced they're cutting jobs in Iowa. Caterpillar is cutting jobs in Illinois. I won't even talk about Michigan. The evening news held announcements of job cuts at Home Depot, Nextel, Spring, Pfizer. Every state is being hit -- hard.

During the past year, we have trimmed our household budget down to bare bones, or so I thought before last week. Now, when I think about how we could survive job loss, if that were to happen, I know that we could have to cut much more. All over this country, men and women are having to make choices about whether to buy food or keep warm, whether to get a doctor's care or fix the car, whether to pay their house payment or their credit card bill. There is no doubt about it; we are in a rough place as a country.

The question is, what do we do about it?

During times like these, when I feel my sense of worry deepen, just about the only way I can find comfort is by reaching out. Last week, we went through all our clothing to donate warm snowsuits, jackets, sweaters, and boots to our local family clothing ministry. My boys are participating in a food drive through school to help keep our local food pantry stocked. We have set aside furniture to donate to the YWCA shelter for abused women. I know it's not much, but it is something.

When I think about how bad the economy is and how bad it may become, I think about how our grandparents' generation made it through the depression. I think about how my own parents made it through tough economic times, even with 6 children.

They made it through by counting on each other.

People make the difference in difficult times. Neighbors help to fix a car. Sisters help to share food or babysit. Friends offer a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Strangers donate food or clothing or transportation to the doctor.

And so I tell myself, no matter how worried I am about the future, I have a loving family. I have caring neighbors. I have friends at church and school. I have faith.

I take a deep breath and despite my worry I tell myself, We will be okay.

And then I look around to see who I can help. Please, I truly hope you do, too. In our lifetime, there has never been a more important time to pitch in.

Maybe if we all do, these troubled times might become a little bit easier.

- Midwest Mom


  1. The situation is definitely tough for many right now. Relief is years into the future in my opinion...hoping for the best!

    Here's a link to my post of a rough football tackle

  2. My husband's business is thriving and we're even cutting back--and trying to help some neighbors who aren't so fortunate. Tough times, indeed. Here's to your husband's job security. How stressful.

  3. I sent this to my mom, she was laid off just yesterday as a matter of fact. She said it touched her heart.

    Each time we go to the library we bring cans of food to drop into the food bin and when people give me hand me downs I do not want I donate them to a church that gives them to a woman's shelter. It's the least we can do to be honest.

  4. This is just beautiful--and you're so right--the best way to cope with the stress and uncertainty is to reach out. Thanks for such a great reminder!


  5. Beautiful post, I hope your husbands job stays secured and that we all will manage trough this rough times!
    I donate all the time all of the clothes that we don't use and often to the local food pantry.
    You're right we all need to help each other to go trough this!

  6. Positive Mental Attitude - this is what will get so many of us through these tenuous times. I've been encouraging everyone I know to plant a "prosperity" vegetable garden - grow for your family and to share with others. Beautiful post, I have my fingers crossed for your family.

  7. What a wonderful post and it's a tough world out there no matter where you live.
    I can't begin to tell you how awesome it is when others reach out to help, it's an amazing feeling.

  8. I admire your attitude and we're working on being optimistic here. We too will continue donations to the food shelf and other places as we can. There are always others in a worse place. I plan on planting a mighty big garden this year too. Oh how I would love to chat with my grandmother right now about surviving during the depression.

  9. You are an amazing woman to be struggling yourself and yet still thinking of others.

    Maybe the good thing about this recession will be our return to thinking of and helping others.

  10. Doublebanker,
    Thanks for coming by. I think we all have hopes right now that this tough time will not last too long. The more people work together, the better we'll all weather the difficulty.

    Green Girl,
    It's good to know someone is prospering! (He's not a debt counselor, is he?) Thanks for your support and friendship. Things are stressful, but I am well aware it could always be worse.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. Tell her that she's in our prayers. I never felt so much solidarity with so many people in my life. There is nothing like potential hardship to bring people together, right? At least in our case, it's still potential hardship. We're just doing our best to be prepared.

    Tell your mom to come by anytime. ;)

    Julie, I'm honored you came by and commented. Faith is a wonderful thing these days. It's pulling us through, truly.

    I'm so glad to hear that you and your family are giving. It's just what we all need right now. :)

    You are so funny. Back in the day when I used to play sports, we used PMA all the time. It works wonders! (And you know I love gardening! A prosperity garden is a great idea!)

    Thanks for the hug, dear. I needed it. I should spend more time looking at your beautiful photos when I'm feeling blue. There's nothing like a little Sky Watch to lift my spirits!

    You have been in my prayers all week long. Our family is blessed to have known the eldest generation well into our adulthood. We have learned so much from them, it's hard to put it into words. My husband's grandfather had a small grocery store when the depression began. He went out of business because he gave away food to families that needed it. He told us about it once and my husband asked if he regretted the loss. He smiled, "Of course not. I have no regrets about helping people when they need it." It practically makes me cry to think of him now. I miss his strength and sense of purpose.

    Thanks. You're kind to say that. But honestly, I think we're all going to realize how much we need each other before this is all done. I'm just trying to keep my eyes open and help where I can.

    Thanks, everyone! - Julia

  11. That is really an exceptional message. I think you are spot on. there is an opportunity here for so many of us to make a difference in lives of others. This is such a rotten time.

    I live in Michigan. I have close friends hanging on by a thread. Businesses I have worked with that are shutting down. It's really hard.

    Thanks for this post.


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