Since the middle of January when GRACE sent out its Red Letter about the government shutdown, the GRACE front desk has fielded close to 100 calls from individuals affected by furloughs and office shutdowns. Each of these calls came from concerned individuals who, at the onset, thought they would be able to carry on, hoping for a quick response by the government to reopen their positions and offices.

As time wore on, sadly, their needs became more pressing, and concern began to spread to larger bills and responsibilities. The initial families we saw at GRACE assumed they might need assistance only with groceries in order to cover the gap they hoped would be a short one. Those same families came back, however, as they began to realize they would not have funds available to cover rent and utility bills. As a result of the response from our community, GRACE was able to offer support at every step of the way.

Most of these individuals previously had yet to navigate a system of public support, and therefore needed guidance in securing assistance during this uncertain time. GRACE had a list of resources available to help these families and individuals through government and private programs. Most importantly, as they sought out solutions, they could do so knowing GRACE would be there to secure their most basic needs: food, clothing, gas, medicine, rent and utilities.

Currently, most people seem optimistic that their paychecks will resume. And, though many will receive “back pay,” some are not guaranteed any payment for the time their positions were not officially open. There is also a looming fear that another shut down could occur in the very near future if our elected officials are unable to find some common ground on which to stand and end the detrimental quarreling. Vigilantly, GRACE will be here – ready and willing – to again step forward.