“A Burden Had Been Lifted from My Heart and Spirit”
I am writing this letter to express my extreme gratitude to the AARP Foundation, their volunteers and the Governor’s office for its support in promoting the AARP referral line.
During the last 2 yrs my financial circumstances have changed dramatically. Because of
deteriorating physical health, I can no longer work a traditional job and now earn my living
as an independent contractor working from home. Therefore, my sole financial support is
dependent upon me and when I can work. During the last year my gross income was less
After spending my life being a caregiver for two developmentally disabled brothers and
finally our Mother during the last seven years of her life, I never dreamed I would find
myself, at the age of fifty-two, unable to provide for my basic needs.
By now I am certain you are asking yourself, why didn’t she apply for assistance? The
answer is both complex and simple, which I am sure a politician can understand.
Firstly, I was raised in a time and household which believed you took care of yourself, and
only people who were shiftless and lazy turned to outside help. I was embarrassed and
ashamed that I couldn’t make it without help. I was someone who did for others. I made care
packages for soldiers overseas. I gave food to the local food banks, I collected clothing for
the homeless, donated to the kettles at Christmas and bought toys for children on the angel
tree. Now I couldn’t even put food on my own table.
Secondly, I had been misinformed by bad information. I had heard that if you owned anything, you couldn’t qualify for help of any kind.
And lastly, I did not want to take away from someone who needed help more than I;
someone in worse physical condition or someone with children.
Then, one afternoon in October, on the evening news on WVVA Channel 6, I saw Governor
(Joe) Manchin speaking with the reporters about the AARP Foundation referral line. As the
report continued a spokesperson for the referral line said, “You do not have to be a member
of AARP, you do not have to be retired or even over the age of 50; you simply need to call
us if you need any kind of help and we will see what’s available for you and help you apply.”
I grabbed a Sharpie and the only thing which was a compact mirror to write on and wrote down
the number. So I called. I spoke with a very compassionate woman who took some basic information and said they would go through the available programs and call me back.
Then, one day I received a phone call from one of the volunteers with the AARP Foundation
referral and she spent an hour with me filling out a detailed application for benefits.
(Following an appointment with a county social worker), 10 days later I received my SNAP
card, the letter detailing the benefit amount and a letter stating that $465.00 had been credited to my gas account to help me through the winter.
I cannot express the relief and gratitude I have had since that day. I felt such a burden had
been lifted from my heart and spirit. Every night when I turn on the faucet and take a hot
bath, I give thanks.
I would never have applied for the benefits had it not been for the AARP Foundation referral
program and their volunteers who encouraged me with compassion and reassurance to
pursue the benefits available.
With kindest regards,