Two Mondays each month, Karen and I, case managers from Saint Louise House, go to St. Austin’s Catholic Church for our Plus 1 assistance program. Our agency is part of a program that receives funding to help Austin Energy clients with their utility bills. Our morning sessions are spent meeting new people and listening to their stories. A woman came in last week who could not pay her utility bill because she was laid off from the job she had held for 30 years. After thanking me for the help, I said we were happy to do whatever little bit we could. Her response moved me. She said it wasn’t a little thing at all; to someone who does not have any income, the thought of an unpaid bill and the uncertainty of how it will get paid is an incredibly stressful experience.
When people come in to St. Austin’s from the cold, some express shame or embarrassment that they need to come to us for help. But, in reality, it’s an act of great courage to accept the fact that you need assistance and to seek it out. People find themselves in situations they never could have predicted. A person may selflessly help out a family member or friend, lose a job, or have an unexpected medical emergency come up. Life happens, and there isn’t always enough money to go around. Because of the work we do at Saint Louise House, we completely understand that people sometimes find themselves in difficutl situations. We are grateful that people trust us with their stories and are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Austin Energy to serve the larger Austin community in this way.
-Lizzie Warner, Case Manager