Before Elisabeth’s husband had three heart attacks, things were going pretty well for their family. She worked as a pediatric nurse in Lewiston and her husband had a good job as a CNA. The two incomes were helping them take care of their eight kids. They were paying their bills, planning for retirement and even setting money aside for a rainy day.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
That was before.
It was before the heart attacks left her husband unable to work, left Elisabeth to go back to work early from maternity leave after the birth of her youngest, left the bank account, savings and retirement accounts empty.
“Everyone wants their money right now,” Elisabeth said of the bills from the hospital visits to save her husband. “It’s scary how fast the savings can go and how fast you can go from doing good and being responsible and setting aside money, to there not being a single penny here to put food on the table.”
But with eight kids, having no food on the table was not an option. So, she turned to her local pantry.
“We went down and filled out the forms,” she said. “Everyone there was amazingly supportive and helpful. They look forward to the baby coming in each month. They’re family at this point.”
Elisabeth said that family has been a lifesaver, helping them start to rebuild a life they thought was secure.
“It just takes one thing,” she said. “That’s all it takes to end up here. We had no debt. We do now, but we didn’t back then.
“If we tried to pay the hospital bills we already owe, it would be two years-worth of my salary. That’s just not going to happen.”
But, as Elisabeth has found, turning to The Idaho Foodbank has enabled her to afford a little more elbow room in her bank account. The extra food means the ability to pay the bills she needs to. Now, even with her husband still unable to return to work, she’s starting a new retirement account and getting back on her feet. That’s not to say the struggles aren’t still there.
“Savings is a foreign concept at this point,” she said. “That account is empty and lonely.”
But even still, she said the Foodbank and her local partners helped her keep her identity and her dignity as she’s slowly begun to pull herself out – a parting message she passes to anyone who will listen.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “Food bank workers are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. I could not imagine this without them. There is just no way we won’t be helping the Foodbank when we don’t need help. I can’t imagine not having these people in my life. They’re my friends. They’re my family.”