A Study in Contrasts: The Dole

Continuing our theme this week… Almost seventeen months ago, my husband lost his job. We had our six-months reserves, we had our cars and student loans paid off, we had our food storage and our credit cards were empty. We did everything we were counselled to do. We cashed in our 401K, pared down our expenses and tried to stretch our dollar, making our six months savings last almost a year and half. In these months, we’ve also accumulated over 300 rejection letters for the jobs my husband has applied for in three states.

Today, we are out of rope. The savings are gone. The 401K is gone. The unemployment insurance is gone. We don’t know what comes next. But here is what I can see from where I stand…

Study One:State Department of Health and Human Services (hereafter DHS)

First Visit.We gather all our papers- social security cards, bank statements, insurance and paystubs- and head down to the DHS offices. We have an appointment, and we think this means something. It does not. An appointment, it turns out, only means they will see you sometime that day. There are no guarantees- it may be at 10 a.m. or at 4 p.m. So be prepared to sit and wait.

There are dozens of others sitting and waiting in the poorly-lit windowless office. There are not enough chairs, and people are scattered on the floor as well. It’s undignified, whether by design or by funding, I don’t know. It’s also dirty. I don’t mean a value judgement, but factually, it is a dirty place.

We wait for our names to be called for over two hours. All the “windows” are walled with gray-painted boards, and there is a small opening through which you talk to your “case worker”. We provide all the information requested. Our Case Worker informs us that we with our unemployment compensation, we make exactly, to the dollar, the cut-off for assistance. We are also told to quietly sell one of our cars, and it will help our case. Otherwise, the will count our car as income and make us claim it. We are hoping for medical insurance for our kids, since the COBRA from my husband’s job is almost the same as our mortgage every month.

After almost another hour, we are told to go home, that someone will contact us with information regarding our eligibility. They do, and our kids get medical insurance. We are grateful for this. We are eligible for no other aid.

Visit Two: A year later. Yesterday. Our resources are gone. We have no savings or cash. Since unemployment has run out, we wonder if we might qualify for other aid or services. Our income is now $0. 00. Because it made no difference before, we skip making an appointment. We again gather our papers, get a sitter for the kids and go downtown. A large sign greets us at the check-in kiosk informing us they do not see walk-ins on Wednesday. Knocking on a board “window” I ask a woman if she can help me. She tells me she cannot officially “help” me, but maybe she can answer a few questions

I learn: If I were not married, I would qualify for about twice the aid I do as a married woman with three kids. If I were unmarried and pregnant, I would qualify for even more. If I lie on my form and say I only have one car, they will give me more. To receive aid, I must be willing to go back to work, at which time they will provide the funding for daycare. But only if I work. They will only pay someone else to watch my kids, not me.

My husband and I fill out the forms and drop them in the box. Since we don’t have an appointment, and no one can officially help us, we now wait for a phone call to give us an appointment so we can go back down and wait all day.

We left the DSH offices and sat in the car. We were quiet, unsure of what to say- it’s humiliating to be in the position of needing help. It’s worse when you’re not even seen as a person. It becomes almost funny dealing with a bureaucracy as inefficient, mind-numbing and soul-deadening as the red-tape welfare system.

Study Two: Church Welfare and the Bishop’s Storehouse

I’m biased. Right up front. I am.  You can read about my experiences at the BSH here, and about struggling with humility here. I have a testimony of this church, and of the work it does, and nothing will shake that from me.

Recently, I had the privilege of talking with a local authority on the charitable mission of the Church. I was expressing concern over our need for assistance and being a burden, when he stopped me. He told me to set aside my worries. In a recent training session, he had been told all work, all temple building, all production of media would be set aside before any cut in aid to the poor and needy. Aid to the poor and needy was the single most important mission of this Church, and they would continue to provide that aid long after funds for anything else might be cut.

He also asked me if I knew the difference between the “Poor” and the “Needy”. The Poor are poor of spirit, and are needful of the Gospel and the love of Christ, while the Needy are those who know Christ and are simply in need of temporal assistance until they can again help themselves. It is the Church’s mission to care for both, without discrimination.

So, when my husband and I left the DHS offices yesterday, we drove to the Bishop’s Storehouse. We tied on our aprons and got to work. We cooked a meal for 30 people, and then sat down and broke bread with our brothers and sisters who were there to serve each other as well. Periodically as we ate, another family would come in, and some of us would excuse ourselves to help prepare their order, while another offered their place at the table so the family could eat a hot meal while they waited.

When we get home, there is a message from our bishop. He knows our situation, and wants our mortgage information so the Church can take care of it for us this coming month. He assured us in his message to not worry, and that he will meet with us on Sunday.

In one day, we see the best and near the worst. We see misguided and failed attempts at a social safety net, and we can a truly family-centered and carefully run program that actually helps real people with real needs. We see one program contributing to the Poor and ignoring many Needy. And we see another program helping not only the Needy, but working diligently to alleviate being Poor altogether.

So we can theoretically argue all day over what social welfare means. We can discuss the pros and cons and whys till the cows come home. But what is a dispassionate discussion of social policy to some, is something I am passionately living every day.


  1. Tracy, you are awesome. Thank you for sharing this, which is so personal. I keep praying for your family.

  2. Tracy, thanks!

  3. No words.

  4. This all hit your family, Tracy, a year before it began to hit a lot of others, and there will be a lot more of us in your shoes before it’s over. While I wish this weren’t happening to you, and I don’t think it should help you at all to be a model for others (I know anything I say runs a risk of being exactly the wrong thing, and hope you know I mean no harm), you’re kind of a pioneer here. Because you haven’t been too proud to write about your experiences, you’ve been showing us how this all works and showing us how to face it all. There’s no way of knowing who is going to remember your posts from the last months and find hope and a path through by following your trail. Thank you.

  5. Thanks, Tracy. It sucks that you are having to go through this, but it is nice to hear that the church is doing well by you.

  6. Mark Brown says:

    Second what Rebecca said in her last sentence.

    (Well, all of her comment, but especially her last sentence.)

  7. Love you, Tracy. Amen to what everyone said.

  8. God continue to bless you, friend, as you continue to bless us.

    What a beautiful post.

  9. Tracy this is amazing. I’m always stunned what people endure with such courage as you showed in sharing this. It also makes me think that I need to add to my fast offerings. I am glad to belong to an organization that does this much good with this kind of attitude of caring. It sort of took my breath away to read about how kind and helpful members of the Church has been.

    When you said, “Aid to the poor and needy was the single most important mission of this Church” it struck a chord. I’ve always believed this. I’m so grateful you shared with us its working in action.

  10. Thanks for sharing, Tracy.

    Ardis nailed it. I believe you know this but to remove any doubt, there truly are many whom you are helping as you share your experiences. I am one who remembers your posts and re-reads them occasionally to help me find my way through my own minefield of “passionately living” social policy. Thanks for your courage and example in navigating the messy parts of life.

  11. At my family’s worst, we received both some great government help and church help, but there really is nothing like the Bishop’s Storehouse. I loved that place.

    Thanks for your post, Tracy. All my love.

  12. Aaron Brown says:

    Amazing post, Tracy. A keeper. I really wish you and your family the best.


  13. You don’t know me Tracy but I was touched by your story. I will keep you in my prayers tonight.

  14. Reminds me of a lot of my clients.

    One difference though… you don’t have phone operators from some collection agency calling you every 20 minutes during the day and yelling obscenities at you at 1:00 AM in the morning.

    Very well done in avoiding that additional burden by the time you lost your source of income. It’s quite an achievement to get to the point you are at without running up credit cards in an attempt to make ends meet.

  15. No, Seth. We don’t. I suppose that’s a Tender Mercy ;)

    Then again, if things don’t turn around quickly, those credit cards won’t stay almost empty for much longer.

    Thanks everyone for you kind words. I really just wanted to illustrate the differences in doing it right, vs. doing it on The Dole. I’m sure that’s what our GA’s are talking about when they mention the evils of the Dole. It’s not about needing help, or being Needy, it’s about getting ensnared in the sucking spider-web of red tape on government welfare.

    The only way I know to illustrate is with a personal narrative. It wasn’t brave to share- I’m stripped of pride. It was just the facts, at least from where I stand. If it helps someone else, that’s fantastic- but my small words aspired to no such heights. What a nice side benefit.

  16. To be fair, Tracy, I’m not sure you’re comparing like with like here. The sheer scale of the need coupled with chronic underfunding and public disapproval means that state welfare in the US faces obstacles which the bishop’s storehouse never will. You would find the “dole” much more effective in Europe, where it forms part of the social insurance into which we all pay and which therefore already belongs to “us.”

    (Not meant to detract from the generous and soul-affirming help the church is giving you. God bless you and the church.)

  17. Tracy,

    My heart goes out to you for your lived experience in humility.

    The horror you experienced at DHS is not universal. While I would say that gaming the system by recipients is universal (and virtually unavoidable when dealing with a dishonest person), the reciprocal lack of respect and decency demonstrated by the DHS office you visited is not always the case.

    I can only speak for Colorado, but I have worked in the non-profit sector in 2 counties and had weekly interaction with county DHS offices. In both cases the facilities were clean, service was generally prompt, and staff was mostly skilled in their work.

    While I don’t know where you live, I believe your experience might say more about urban blight than an inevitability about the social welfare system.

  18. Thomas Parkin says:

    Come to Logan. The money I make (I won’t even say, I’ve still got some pride – but it is less than 30% of what I’ve averaged over the last ten years) wouldn’t have even paid our rent and utilities in Seattle. Here, we are in the black for the first time since April of 2006. It might only be $20 a week in the black, but it is the black. We live four blocks from the temple. I have never felt so blessed.

    Us, living in frigid and insular northern Utah, in this little apartment with appliances from the early 70s (lime green bathtub and banana yellow stove), proves that all things are possible. I’d have said it was impossible. We are poor but we are free. You do what you have to do, and find that life can be pretty damn good, even when it is pretty damn bad. ~

  19. Peter LLC says:

    with our unemployment compensation, we make exactly, to the dollar, the cut-off for assistance. We are also told to quietly sell one of our cars, and it will help our case…. If I lie on my form and say I only have one car, they will give me more.

    The requirement that recipients be divested of their assests before qualifying for any assistance probably makes a lot of sense to the “No Free Lunch!” crowd, but the practical application seems harsh. I can see why you’re not a fan.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    God bless you and your family, Tracy.

  21. Wow, Tracy, thanks for sharing this. Having been on the other side (interviewing members for Church assistance), I’m glad to see your ward and stake are handling it the right way.

    As an aside, isn’t it ironic that married people get penalized for being married when it comes to assistance?

  22. melodrama says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, it helps to see the individual humanity in social issues we discuss and debate on such a universal level.

    I loved the distinction between the poor and the needy and the assurance from the authority that the church is dedicated to helping both.

    Still, even within the church’s system, which is not set up to really take care of long term needs of the needy, be they poor or not, there are times where we distinguish between the deserving and undeserving. It’s so easy to second-guess another – did they buy too much house, did they not save enough, did they work hard enough, do they “deserve” to have a car or cell phone given their current plight. You are a reminder of the stark reality that self-reliance is a potentially temporary situation for all of us. You teach us to see the story behind the statistic.

  23. Researcher says:

    Thank you for sharing this very personal, touching look into your life and experiences.

  24. Thank you for sharing this. I also read your bishop’s storehouse post. Both were very sensitively written. Thank you

  25. My heart goes out to your family, Tracy. My parents went though something similar when I was in high school. My dad was unemployed or underemployed for 2 years with 6 kids at home. Our family received food stamps (my dad called them “bongo bucks,” I’ll never forget that), as well as food from the bishop’s storehouse and help with rent from the church. I’m grateful for both kinds of help, and feel motivated to increase my fast offering because of your story. Unemployment can happen to anyone.

  26. Thank you, Tracy.

  27. We can call government agencies by whatever initials we want, limited only by the standards of this family blog, but Health and Human Services usually gets HHS–DHS stands for another grossly inefficient, poorly administered agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of such wonders as TSA, the airport strip-searchers, and CIS the immigration service. :-)

    A touching story, Tracy. Now, the real test of whether the bloggernacle is anything more than an overaged college debating club: is there any way that this network of friends can help Tracy’s family find a job? Surely a few hundred friends should have some contacts that could help.

  28. Kristine says:

    Geoff B.,

    It’s not irony–it’s a historical artifact. AFDC was originally meant to allow widowed or otherwise single, distressed women with young children to be able to care for them. It is also (duh) an acknowledgment of the fact that a married woman has claim on another person to help her provide for her children, while an unmarried woman probably doesn’t.

  29. Tracy..The best to you and your family.
    For others, I know how demeaning it can be to go to places like Tracy did.
    But having been the giver of money in a claims career, I know you will always do better ‘face to face’, than handling these things by phone or letter. I know it is not fair, but it’s just harder to say ‘No’ to someone’s face.

  30. FMaxwell says:

    Tracy, can you tell us which state you’re in? Then I can know whether I should be worried about dealing with my state’s agencies, since I’ve also been laid off.

  31. I’m in Washington State, in Rusty’s (Nine Moons) neck of the woods. If anyone knows anyone, or of anyting, email me.

  32. I think your experience with church assistance really varies depending on who your bishop is. When my husband lost his job, the bishop told us they would make our house payment one time. If we weren’t able to find jobs within that month, he thought there was “no point in continuing to pay your mortgage. It will just delay the inevitable.” In the area where we live, houses are being foreclosed on every other day. This is pure speculation, but I’m guessing they are having to put limits on how long the church can make mortgage payments since so many people have lost their jobs here and are in trouble.

    He told me that we should both be looking for work, that there was no reason for me to be home with the kids if my husband was also home. That we should both look and if I found work first I could work until my husband found something. In retrospect, for our situation, he was right. I was able to find low paying work and my husband found work a few months later. I was very grateful for the food assistance we received from the church.

  33. Kristine, I’m aware of the history and practices of AFDC and have actually posted on it numerous times. In actual practice, I have known women who have remained unmarried (living with their boyfriends) so they can continue to receive benefits. When I was a reporter I interviewed a young woman with five children who said she planned on having another child every year because she got an additional $250 a month. (Obviously not a very smart woman, but the phenomenon does exist or did exist in the 1980s — I think welfare reform in the 1990s helped improve that situation). Personally, I don’t think that’s the right way to run government welfare. That is where the irony comes in.

  34. I think people really do need to be a little more flexible in their thinking at times like these. Husband and wife running reduced hours at separate jobs and playing tag team at home with the kids might work better than just trying to get one sufficient job for one spouse.

    I remember listening to a Talk of the Nation where the guest was calling our present economy “the gig economy.” Basically asserting that full time jobs that pay benefits and support a family are a thing of the past. The trend now is toward contract work, temporary positions, and outsourcing to smaller operations. Essentially, you have to live the way musicians have traditionally lived – from “gig to gig.”

    You set up multiple different contract-basis jobs providing a service. There is no job stability, but rather a constant need to reestablish new revenue streams.

    If that sounds exhausting, it is.

    I was basically in this situation when I graduated from law school in 2005. I moved down from Wyoming (my law school was there) to Colorado and was hoping to find legal work. What I found was a highly oversaturated legal market with little interest in my credentials. After looking at some base employment offerings at – I kid you not – $30,000 a year for a new attorney, I took the advice of a local bankruptcy attorney and just set up shop.

    Cell phone, laptop, code, practice manual, bankruptcy software, couple online listings, and a few small yellow pages ads. Ran it out of our small, dank apartment and did client housecalls to hide the fact that I was too stinking poor to afford an office.

    I did a paper route to bring in additional income and my wife taught swimming lessons at the rec center. It was brutal. Help from parents was invaluable, but it couldn’t cover most of our expenses. Clients trickled in, but not fast enough. Sometimes I’d only get one new client in a month. So I’d study the bankruptcy code, look into marketing, and sit in front of a phone that wasn’t ringing thinking dark thoughts. I also looked around for legal contract work, but not a lot of that stuff materialized. Getting up at 3:00 AM every morning and getting hassled by grumpy people in the newspaper distribution center didn’t help things much.

    This went on for two years while my wife and I toughed-out the post 2005 bankruptcy filing slump. Gradually, things picked up and we pulled out of it. But even today, when times are better (for me) than they’ve ever been, I still live from gig to gig essentially. It’s pretty stressful.

  35. Interesting the way money changes. My first job as a new associate at a Wall Street law firm in 1980 paid exactly $30,000/year. Back then we thought we were rich.

    Having been engaged in the same kind of law practice for about 17 1/2 years, I know what it’s like to work from gig to gig. At least with the law there’s the option of hanging up a shingle and trying to reel in clients one at a time. That option isn’t available for a lot of other kinds of work.

  36. I try to avoid comparing my own situation and history to that of others.

    I will say it’s kind of a strange world when you’re a bankruptcy attorney, and some of your clients are making more money than you are.

  37. Ola senor says:

    Seth – you should have come to las vegas! In 2005 you could have walked into any firm in the city and been making at least $60k. The top firms were $100k+. Sure you might not have been able to buy a house (given the run up in prices), but that wouldn’t have been a good idea anyway. Even in the down legal economy – firms are still going strong. Some of the prestige firms that came in from outside or grew too fast are suffering, but the work is still here.

    My point is that we sometimes have to re-think what we are doing, and change things up. My father in law left a succesful business a few years ago when the market changed. He pared back his expenses, and no runs a non-profit service provider for disabled kids.

    One of my neighbors was a mechanic for a local dealership. Good job, good benefits, until it closed suddenly. He is now making more money than he did bydoing mobile auto repair. The biggest challenge is the lack of health insurance. (all the more reason to have HI reform – doesn’t have to be free – just let all americans buy at the group rates).

    All in all it is good to know that the church is still there, with all its programs. In our unit there has been a lot of focus on the “quorum” as a mutual assistance society (see “This is Your Phone Cal”l, Bishop Richard C. Edgley, April 2009 Conference).

  38. Ola senor says:

    Mark B

    Money sure does change. After Medical School, My Father’s salary as a resident was about $30k. When last I checked – this translated into $75k-$80k going by inflation rates.

    Having experience of that vintage – do you think that the low interest rates now are a good thing or a bad thing (not whether they were a good thing 2 years ago), as compared to the astronomical rates of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

  39. Wow, Tracy. Thank you for sharing.

    Until my wife started working last summer, we were receiving several types of benefits from Washington state and the city of Seattle.

    Though the budget is almost as tight as it was before, we pay for all of our food etc. now, and that really does mean something.

    In the spirit of Mark B.’s last paragraph in #27, what are some fields your husband has experience in or would like to get into (though I do recognize that almost anything would be good at this point)? I’m not quite in your area (I live in the Renton Stake), but I would be happy to pass long any opportunities I hear about.

  40. Infrastructure supply. Construction supply-side. A little bit of electronical engineering experience. Underground infrastructure planning and supply…

  41. I will keep my eyes open.

  42. I attended a special welfare training session in the Bellevue Stake last night, and it was remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, even with what I suspect are reduced tithing and fast offering receipts, there was no discussion of needing to restrict the church’s ability to help people. We were encouraged to go find them in our wards. Also remarkable to me was the open acknowledgment that sometimes we might have to help pay mortgages for the short term, something that was previously discouraged in my past experience.

    As I think Bishop Burton and Sister Beck said in the DVD portion of the training, charity is the core of Christian living.

    Tracy, thanks for sharing this story. I’ve been down this road myself more often than I care to admit, and it is so hard on the whole family. Best of luck and God’s blessings on both you and your husband. As our Stake President said last night about the current economy, “This too will pass”. Maybe not soon, but eventually.

  43. KevinF, great comment.

    Tracy, I want to say that I am 100 percent sure that you will get past this difficult time and several years from now you and your husband will look back and this and marvel at some of the GOOD things that came from your present challenges. When I look back at some of the most challenging times of my life, somehow I mostly remember the good things that came from those challenges.

  44. Tracy,

    My heart goes out to you. I’ve been following your story with interest for quite some time now. I’m sure it seems even longer to you. I agree with you that there seem to be some perverse incentives in government aid programs. However this passage really struck me:

    To receive aid, I must be willing to go back to work, at which time they will provide the funding for daycare. But only if I work. They will only pay someone else to watch my kids, not me.

    I’m not really following you here. Are you looking for work? Do you have concerns about daycare? It seems to make sense to me to encourage people to get employed and become economically self sufficient. Many people utilize daycare as a way of doing this. I have enormous respect for people that make hard choices and sacrifice in order to provide for their families.

    I don’t mean to turn this into a debate about the merits of daycare versus other options. I do think that the relatively desperate economic situation that you’re in right now calls for aggressively pursuing all options for employment for both you and your husband. Do you feel that LDS ideals about parenting have hindered you from doing so?

  45. arj,

    Generally speaking, daycare sucks. They admit far too many children for the number of workers in the facilities and the result is something akin to Lord of the Flies. The workers often tend to be of low quality and possibly even mildly abusive. Things typically are not run well at all.

    Most people I encounter who have the option of the wife working out of the home and putting the kids in daycare toss the idea when they discover that pretty-much all of the wife’s income would be sucked up by daycare expenses.

  46. Starfoxy says:

    aRJ- I think the point she’s getting at is that (as Naismith would remind us) taking care of kids is work, therefore Tracy is working. However the state won’t pay her to do that work herself, they will only pay someone else to do that work for her, and only when Tracy goes to work somewhere else whether it is in her family’s best interest or not.
    Is there a compelling reason why they can’t just skip the daycare center and give Tracy the money for doing the work of taking care of her kids?

  47. ARJ- I have no problem with going back to work- but I have been out of the paying workforce now for almost 9 years, and find myself in that conundrum so many mothers do- my marketable skills and resume are outdated.

    Starfoxy actually articulated my point for me. I was asking a rhetorical question.

    If I could go out and get a job, I would do so tomorrow.

  48. I just wanted to let you know that I have been there just as you have with being in need of assistance and dealing with the welfare office. I will say a prayer for you tonight and hope that things improve in your life. Peace and love be with you.

  49. We had a blessedly short experience with church welfare back in the early 90s. We were helped even though we were not active at the time. Our Bishop was wonderful and I will be forever grateful for his wiilingness to assist us.

  50. Seth R.,

    Daycare varies. Good daycares can have many positive benefits. Blanket statements are what suck. Also, as Tracy M has made clear, she wouldn’t have to pay for all of it.


    You needn’t remind me that taking care of kids is work. But while you are on target about that, your logic about daycare is faulty. If you make enough money to cover the cost of daycare (or if the government is willing to pay for it as in this case) then you come out ahead. If the problem is that you have no money, this is one way to address it. If daycare is not an option for whatever reason, it still would make sense for both Tracy and her DH to look for work and have him care for the children full-time if she finds work first.

    If Tracy really wants to get paid for taking care of her kids there is always the option of applying to work at a daycare and then enrolling her kids there.

    Tracy M,

    I’m not sure what to make of your response. Have you applied for positions? You imply that you haven’t.

    Your family is desperate circumstances and your husband is in an industry that has been hit hard by the boom and then bust. Unless he accepts a position that is not in his field of work or gets training in a new field it will be difficult for him to get work until there is a recovery. It is very possible that you have better job prospects than he does. To me it makes sense for both of you to pursue every possible avenue. This would include you actively looking for work either in your field or out of it, your husband doing the same, and considering the possibility of getting training in another field that has better opportunities. A year and a half is enough time to have completed a variety of training programs for careers that have more demand.

    I know this sounds harsh, and maybe I’m wrong to post this. Believe me that I’m as sympathetic to your situation as any of the more supportive sounding commenters. I’ve been watching this crisis unfold for a long time now and I’ve had you in my prayers. I think that you trying to get a job is a legitimate option at this point. Perhaps there are circumstances that I’m not aware of that would make this an untenable solution, but I haven’t seen anything so far to indicate that.

  51. ARJ, I honestly do know how desperate my situation is, but thanks for reminding me. I have looked into work, but the cost of daycare, up until this point, was more than I would make. Now that we are completely out of money and the state would help pay for daycare, it might be an option. But until now, with us making “too much”, it just wasn’t a good option.

    My working for pay is absolutely a legitimate option. It’s also not the point of my OP.

  52. Tracy M,

    I had thought I was responding to a point you made in your OP. I’m sorry that my attempt at a discussion of that point has gone awry. I’ll let it drop.

  53. Tracy’s dilemma is pretty common. If I were to lose my job (please God, don’t give me THAT challenge!) my wife has been out of the workplace for 6 years. She would most likely not be able to get a job paying a wage that even covers the daycare. People forget that it’s not just the wage — it’s the gas money getting to the job, plus the nicer work clothes you have to wear, plus the drycleaning, plus the lunch money to go out with your co-workers. This is the dilemma of the working woman who becomes a stay-at-home mommy.

  54. ARJ- sorry for being snarky. That wasn’t productive of me. Your pointing out how desperate my situation is just got my hackles up. Geoff B is correct- my going back to work is something I would gladly, GLADLY do, if I the opportunity is there. I have nothing against women working outside the home.

  55. Naismith says:

    As for “skipping the daycare,” there is much sense to that. That’s the case my daughter made when we offered to pay for a preschool for her child while she finished her dissertation. They thought they would be happier with dad at home fulltime, so instead of paying for preschool we gave them some hundreds of dollars each month to afford a parent at home.

    “It’s the gas money getting to the job, plus the nicer work clothes you have to wear, plus the drycleaning, plus the lunch money to go out with your co-workers.”

    I agree those are considerations that should be weighed when considering whether a job is worth the effort, but they are hardly inevitable. I don’t have any of those expenses. I ride my bicycle five miles to work, I don’t pay over $700 dollars a year for a parking permit. I don’t have drycleaning bills; I am careful to buy/make clothes that are lower maintenance and I already had quite a few nice mom clothes because of having to deal with the kids’ schools, etc. I don’t go out to lunch with colleagues unless I absolutely have to; I need that time to think, and fortunately all my employees get along and eat with one another.

    Tracy M is an amazingly talented person and a good writer, and I’m sure they’ll find a way to get through this season.

    There’s a balance between being positive about the skills we bring to the workplace and limitations of our experience in a particular setting. I’ve written my story elsewhere about how I was hired for the first paid job I applied for, after 9 years of mommyhood, at a salary that was not a pay cut from my last paid position. I know I was lucky, but I also know lots of other women who have done well in re-entry (albeit the ones who did best were those who weren’t under pressure and could wait a bit to find the right fit). There is a great demand for good managers, and that is one of the skills that fulltime parenthood teaches. This week one of the senior people on our team observed that I am “the glue that holds the project together.” Which is very much what a lot of moms do as well. It *is* a marketable skill if you happen to be in an area where that is needed.

    But of course as a soft-money researcher, I do have to find a new position every few years…and I confess, before a job interview, I get psyched by watching the President’s pep talk from the end of INDEPENDENCE DAY: “…and should we win the day….we’re going to live on, we’re going to survive!!”

    Thanks for sharing the story; we’ve greatly increased our fast offerings and it is good to know the church is trying to help in a positive way.

  56. Tracy M,

    I understand that this is a difficult topic. I’m very sorry to have caused offense. I appreciate your candor and I’m sure many others do as well.

  57. If your husband is out of work, why would you need daycare?

  58. Um, possibly because he has been working so hard trying to find work? Forced unemployment is no vacation, and it isn’t free time to be filled with a full-time home job.

  59. Mark Brown says:

    Cameo, it is one thing to be out of work; it is another thing to be actively looking for a job. As the church employment program teaches, an unemployed person needs to treat looking for a job as a job. Out the door at 8, interview, look, make contacts, and hustle all day long.

    I’ll repeat the request that was previously made: The point of the post was to highlight the different experiences Tracy has had, not to provide an opportunity for everybody to second-guess the actions her family has taken.

  60. Tracy, this post was so poignant. I’ll continue to pray for you and your family. And thank you for sharing your experiences, both good and bad.

  61. NC member says:

    Dear Tracy,
    I hope very much that your family will be given the help and relief you need ASAP. My husband and I have been chronically unemployed and underemployed for the last 3 years. My husband has an undergrad degree but really needs grad school for viable employment in our area. I finished an associate degree (thanks to my parents’ constant help/gifts) but it is also not enough now. We were refused help by our BP several years ago (at X-mas, no less) but he was ignored by our RS Pres and EQ. They collected help from members despite him. We were overwhelmed by their kindness, to say the least. Another friend was turned down by another local leader about a year ago. We will all be incredibly wary of asking for anymore help from the local church from now on. We certainly do not believe they were following their callings or any other messages from the church, but it was painful to realize they had so much discretion and were unable to put aside their own judgments since their reasons for denial were made clear during interviews. Yes, we were and are active. One of the worst things about our situation is almost never the $ and how to stretch what little there is, if there is any left to stretch – but by the ‘helpful’ comments and info people have for us. People who have never lost a job or who are clearly clueless of our situation and sacrifices will be full of advice b/c they apparently think we have put no effort or thought into it. Even though our every move is about how to fix it. We love it when people tell us we need more schooling that we can’t pay for and have already been denied that help. Thanks, I’m trying to figure out how to have dinner. Oh well. We pay our tithing and our FOs and pray for it to end soon. My point is – offer help but keep comments and advice to yourself unless you REALLY are close to someone and know what’s going on. The road to hell is paved w/ good intentions and the Saints sure do love to hand out the judgements. (Sorry for the length – pet peeve, dontchaknow.)

  62. losingfaith says:

    We are both disabled, my husband just became that way recently, and my Bishop said the church wouldn’t let him pay our mortgage. We have no where to go , we are losing our home and we have always paid our tithing when we had money. We just needed help until he could get Soc.Sec.

  63. Sort of depends on how much your mortgage payments are, and how far behind you are. If you’re in foreclosure, chances are, you’re more than three months behind. That’s a hefty chunk of cash typically.

    You probably want to talk to a local bankruptcy attorney. Chapter 7 won’t save the house at this point, but Chapter 13 might (assuming you have any money to make Plan payments). At any rate, if you’re going to lose the house, you definitely don’t want the leftover debt on the mortgage following you. Chapter 7 will at least take care of that problem.

    Call up your local state or county bar association and ask if there are any attorneys who do reduced-fee cases.

    At the very least, get a free consultation. Waiting is just going to hurt you.

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