The following is from Margie Chardiet, an AmeriCorps team member working with EBCAP’s Youth Success and Safety Net Programs.
In December I got a call from a man who was looking for assistance. He needed a full tank of oil for the month and he couldn’t afford it. The temperatures were dropping every day. I could hear the anxiety in his voice underneath his cheerful tone. He told me that he had never before needed to approach an agency for help before. East Bay Community Action Program had received funding from the United Way to assist people with basic needs during the winter months. I set up an appointment for him to come in for an assessment. When he arrived the next week, he seemed a little uncomfortable so I tried to put him at ease as best I could. It was the first assessment I’d ever done. Because the office we were in is attached to the office next to it and a sudden delivery had just arrived, there were staff members walking in and out while I asked him very personal questions about his life and family. When we were finished, I thanked him and told him I’d be in touch when the family advocates had made a decision about allocation of funding. Even before I called him with the verdict (he did end up receiving money for a full tank of oil), I received an email from him. He thanked me for “being so incredibly genuine” and for “making this very difficult and embarrassing time in my life feel somehow okay.” One of my greatest wishes is to be able to spare clients the embarrassment that they already feel when they are forced to ask for help. This client’s unprompted note let me know that I am on the right track.
This story is a snapshot of the kind of impact we try to make in people’s lives every day we serve. Thank you to Margie for sharing!