Dan and Clarissa's hardship story begins last year when she lost her job in June and he lost his job in July. Clarissa decided to go back to college and get a degree to better her job opportunities. It was hard juggling school full-time, a part-time job, and care for their 12 year-old son who has some challenges of his own.
Things started to look up. Dan got a full-time job and Clarissa graduated and worked two part-time jobs. It seemed as though life was going to get better, and then in August, Dan was given the news he had lung cancer. Dan asked the ultimate question, how much time? The Dr. replied, "Maybe until Christmas". Due to Dan's illness and chemo treatments, he lost his job. Clarissa lost one of her part-time jobs because she needed to be with Dan and take him for chemo to Grand Rapids.
Clarissa didn't know who to turn to when she got the news, so she turned to MAP looking for help with a gas card. After a complete screening and talking with the family, we were able to get a better picture of just how much help the family needed. Not only did they need help with gas cards for medical treatments, they also needed to get a license plate, and needed gas for work. We also discovered they were behind in utility bills, their rent, and needed food and personal care items.
Mission for Area People provided gas cards, the license plate (through the ALICE funds from United Way), food and personal care items, and paid a utility bill (through Flexible Focus funds from United Way). MAP partnered with the Father Jack Foundation to offer some rental assistance after the family was denied assistance by two other community agencies. We are also connecting them with a church for spiritual support.
For many families in our community the smallest event can create turmoil. For Dan and Clarissa, it was a major life change when they got the news.