How we can help
The gas crisis has been overwhelming for so many in so many ways. It seems we are all still trying to get information on how to help and/or where to get help! Here’s some great information on how we can currently help those in need from the amazing Project Home Again. Thank you for being on top of this for us all!
“The gas crisis has impacted tens of thousands of people. The majority, at over 8,600, are in Lawrence. And though it feels like the worst is (almost) over, for many Lawrence residents this is only the beginning.
Ninety percent of those who live in Lawrence are renters - 90%. That's a staggering number. Rental insurance is not a requirement by all landlords, nor is it a requirement by the city or state. Rental insurance is simply an extra monthly cost that most can't afford when they're already struggling to cover the most basic necessities. How can one afford to replace a house worth's of furniture, goods, food, toiletries, medication, clothing, shoes, school supplies, work uniforms, and appliances if you can't get reimbursed by insurance? Savings? What savings?
Roughly 11% of Massachusetts residents receive SNAP benefits (food stamps) at the beginning of each month. Most of those folks spend the entirety of their benefits within days of receiving them, stocking up on groceries for the month for their families and supplementing as they're able (IF they're able) as the month goes on. The gas crisis ripped through Lawrence just under halfway through September, leaving the majority of recipients with spoiled food. Imagine not having enough income to eat for two weeks? That's reality for many of the victims.
Finding housing, never mind affordable housing, in Lawrence is like finding a needle in a haystack. Losing 8,600 homes is catastrophic. Families are already relocating out of state, many are now residing in temporary shelters, some lucky enough to smoosh into small apartments with additional family or friends. But none of this is a solution and all of this costs money. Even if someone is lucky enough to get housing in Lawrence after all is said and done, it's standard practice to pay first and last months rent plus a security deposit when finding a new place to live. When you're living paycheck to paycheck, this becomes nearly impossible.
Ending the cycle of poverty is possible but with one cataclysmic event, like the gas crisis, it can change that potential near immediately.
The need for assistance is dire. It will be dire for months. Slow, steady, and consistent generosity, if you're so able, is invaluable and needed.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1) Volunteer - There are many organizations to get involved with. Debbie's Treasure Chest and the Lawrence Senior Center have immediate needs for volunteers and we assume it will be this way for a while. PHA is also looking for volunteers as we begin to prepare to assist families in the coming months as they settle into new or existing homes. The Lawrence Public Library is looking for bilingual individuals to assist with translating claims forms.
2) Monetary Donations - Should you have the ability, PLEASE give money. The Essex County Community Foundation will be assisting families directly. Give what you can at www.eccf.org. You can also purchase gift cards! $25 incremental cards to grocery stores, or stores that have grocery departments, are in the highest demand and can be dropped off at the Lawrence Senior Center. You can also donate to PHA's Good Night Sleep program where funds will be used to purchase brand new mattress sets for families impacted: https://www.phama.org/donate/good-nights-sleep-program/
3) Donate Goods - The Lawrence Senior Center has stopped collecting items because they are at capacity, but we highly suggest contacting local shelters and asking what is needed and how you can help. PHA has set up an Amazon Wishlist, anticipating the needs of families affected by the crisis in the coming months. A very simple way to make a very big difference: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/ls/ref=?ie=UTF8&%2AVersion%2A=1&%2Aentries%2A=0&lid=3IGG1COULM63H&ty=wishlist
4) Advocate - Share this post, share updated information, use your voice for someone who might not have one. This is vital.
5) Play - Take a minute to play this game and let us know what you think. It's worth taking 10 or so minutes to really think about your next moves. Unfortunately, this is very real for so many: http://playspent.org
Thank you for your kindness, your huge hearts, your time, your energy. We couldn't do any of this without you.”
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