Wendy, Client & Board Member
Photograph by Macaulay Lerman
Audio by Vermont Folklife
1. "I was in a car accident..." (2:07)
I had gotten a new--I had gotten a car that I had waited a couple of months to get. And I got it, and I hadn't even gotten the title back. I was leaving Richford and this woman took a turn right in front of me, totaled my car, and so I was in a car accident. And, so because of the car accident, that caused my ankle to go the way my ankle went. So I won a lawsuit for that. So they said that I was disabled and it was, you know, $8,000 or whatever it was. It wasn't a lot of money. And, but anyways, there that was. And so I had already gone to court, and so I had thought, well "You know, I, this would be a good time to get on disability." But I was working for Green Mountain Transit and I was paying my bills, but things were getting harder and I was struggling more and more because of my issues. And when you have one joint issue, it goes into all the other joints. And so finally this one girl said to me, "You know, all I did was call the Social Security Office." I'm like, "Really?" And so I called the Social Security office and we set up an interview and it was less than three months. They put me on disability and they said, "You could have done this five years ago." And, but it also, you know, that time was of a lot of struggle and, and so it, it really helped me learn how to be very frugal. And during that time was when I found out about different opportunities that were available. People from Green Mountain Transit. And then I started going to Community Action and, and they were very helpful to let me know what things were available. And I still don't know everything but I'm, I'm, I'm learning more and more as time goes by.
2. "Poverty does not define me." (1:20)
Poverty does not define me. I make my choices and I feel that I am wealthy in--with love. And I have, I have a happy home. And, and it's just--you know, it would be nice to go out. But most of the time I am happy to prepare my own meals. And you, you just, you learn some things are just not that important. And so it's always good to have your bills paid and have that sense of security. But it's up to us. And there's, there's a lot of things that are offered to people with low income, but you have to go out of your comfort zone. You can't expect things just to be given to you. You know, you have to go out. You have to earn it. Sometimes you have--sometimes I barter. You know, “I'll do you a favor. You do me a favor.” And it, I don't feel it defines who I am. And I'm very blessed with family and friends and kitties and, oh, my goodness.
3. "The more you give, the more that comes back to you." (2:14)
I know a lot of people, and to be able to tell them about opportunities that are out there--like this person is telling me, "Oh, you know, my husband's not working and, and he doesn't want to sign up for unemployment." And, you know, I said, "Well, you know, you could go to the food shelf that would help you not go through your savings so much. And there's this food shelf and there's that food shelf. And these people are really kind." And, you know, sometimes people don't want to stand in line and wait for one and just get a box. They want to choose what they want. And, you know, different food shelves do different things for different people. You know, I find if you have food in your house, no matter how poor you're feeling, if you go and make a few meals, you feel wealthy. And, and food insecurity is out there. And sometimes people don't know what to do or where to go. And, you know, no matter how desperate you're feeling if you have food. Life is okay. And, if I know anybody who ever needs anything, I share what I have because it always comes back. And karma is amazing. And, you know, the more you give, the more that comes back to you. And just being kind. Kind is very important. And to share what I have learned and, you know, sometimes that's all people need is just that one little step just to have food on the table that they don't have to worry about buying, or getting help with their electric bill or fuel assistance. Like, I really count on my fuel assistance. And even knowing that through the Warmth Project, I can get help with my electric bill. And that means that I can pay for my registration for my car that month. Or maybe I could buy a Christmas present, you know? And so, it's a careful balancing. But it's out there, and people need to be more aware of what is out there.