Navigating the Safety Net.
A person I know was heading toward being homeless. He needed a job and his search was coming up empty. He seemed resistant to a number of opportunities. He also limited himself to the library computer for job offerings, seldom going in person. I enlisted a friend more knowledgeable than I to help in the job search. He too found him resistant to suggestions and possibilities. All the time he was needing funds. I found two grant sources in the community. One handled a one time grant for 22 different self help groups. With the grants he had a temporary cushion.
501.c3 from the IRS for charitable groups require a submitting your purpose. It turns out the variety of purposes apparently cause fragmentation in the social network.
I enlisted a social worker from CASI to help us understand the various resources. I also encouraged him to file for Social Security since he was 62. He didn’t think he qualified since he hadn’t paid in for a lot of years. After an illness when young he lived with his parents. They apparently became overprotective and he left the workforce, then he became their caregiver as they aged and until each died.
Little by little I kept finding out new elements in his story, surprises as well as the need for financial aid. A sister and brother who lived some distance away provided some support. They had been frustrated by his procrastinations over the years.
Out of necessity he filed for Social Security. He was accepted and he began receiving enough to eek by. The weather became spring like and he started supplementing his income doing yard work.
Then one Sunday my son noticed he was breathing heavily as he walked from the church to the parish hall. When asked about this he said he was out of shape since he hadn’t been bike riding. I thought of other possibilities since his father had congestive heart failure.
I encouraged him to see his doctor, then went to his doctor’s office ahead of his appointment to inform them of my observations. The nurse at first gave me the confidentiality issue so we had a conversation that we never had. They do accept the information they do not have.
After seeing the doctor he was admitted to the hospital for heart problems. Cardiac rehab came next. This allowed him to apply for Social Security disability which he began receiving. He now had sufficient funds.
There is much more to his story as other very serious health issues appeared. While going for a check up he had a cardiac arrest in a restaurant. He was attended to immediately by EMT people who were in the restaurant at the time. The outcome was an implanted fibulator.
At present he is doing well, very regular in Church, even helping with some outreach programs. He sees contact with people an important part of his life and health and the church has a central place in his life beginning with worship.
The Navigator part was staying with his story as it took various unexpected turns, finding and learning which social agencies and systems would be appropriate. The life-threatening turns that appeared more than once required hospitalization and follow up visits. Miraculously, more than once the right people were there for him at the right time. The Lord was ever present.
Through it all I learned how fragmented our safety networks are, plentiful as they are. Working through the maze is stressful in itself. I find it extraordinary that some can use the system for self-gain.
Today the Good Samaritan Story takes many forms as the pattern and personnel in the story are metaphorically moved to new and different places. The constant: Who was neighbor remains the question. And the answer ….
Luke 10: 37And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, #
“Go and do likewise.”
Retired Hospital Chaplain
Founder of the Befrienders and the Art of Story Metaphor Listening