Alone, Together. Imagine this: You are a single mother, fully responsible for the care of your two children, ages two-and-a-half and 14 months. Most weeks, you are barely scraping by as you live paycheck to paycheck. Your minimum wage job serving at the local restaurant in town covers the bills. . . barely.
You have been making it on your own for a while now, as most of your family lives out of state. You have some friends in town who offer to help, but most days they are unavailable handling their own issues. You wake up every morning feeling the undeniable weight of the day on your shoulders, as you are fully aware that the livelihood of you and your children depends solely on you.
You can do this, you tell yourself when the alarm sounds, even though you’ve been parenting on your own with no support from your children’s father.
You guys will make it, you whisper under your breath, even though you were awake four times in one night with a sick child and an early shift at work quickly approaching.
It won’t be like this forever, you repeat in your mind, as the numbers on your recent paycheck just barely cover that month’s expenses.
Seriously, take a moment and consider this life. Has this been you? Is this you, currently?
Now, imagine this: While it is not always easy, you are making it. Until the moment you get the news that your work must shut down for the time being.
A few days later, your children’s childcare center must close immediately.
You take a deep breath and remind yourself of the things you can control. You grab some of your remaining food stamps and head to the grocery, knowing that you will need to stock up on some items with all the extra time your family will be home together.
You panic when you realize the formula you can buy with your WIC card has been completely wiped out. Most shelves are bare. Now what?
You fight back tears as you leave the store with a few bags, mostly full of things you grabbed simply because that is all that was left. You break down in the parking lot as you strap your youngest in the car seat.
Most days are hard, but this COVID-19 curveball just feels like too much.
When you pull up to your apartment parking lot, you sit in the driver’s seat of your car. You pull out your phone and post to Facebook.
Perhaps I will feel less alone, you think as you share with your Facebook friends the stresses and difficulties of your present day. Maybe someone cares.
You sigh as you climb out of your car and begin loading your groceries and the kids inside. You forget about the post you made, realizing that everybody is having a tough time. Why would my struggles matter to anyone?
Later that evening, you receive a Facebook notification from a friend in town. She commented on your status.
“Have you tried Starting Point? They are delivering free diapers, wipes and formula to the doorstep of anybody in need right now.”
You are intrigued. There’s gotta be a catch, you think to yourself.
You visit Starting Point’s website and read about their delivery system. They really are delivering these items for free. All I have to do is ask!
For the first time in weeks, you feel seen. You quickly fill out the request form on the website, specifying your children’s diaper sizes and food preferences. You submit the form. Suddenly, you feel hopeful.
The next morning, your phone dings. A text from an unknown number.
“Hi there! This is Starting Point notifying you that we received your request for diapers, wipes, and formula. We will be making deliveries this afternoon. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.”
What? They got my order? They are really bringing me all this stuff? You feel lighter.
Later that afternoon, a green bag of items is waiting for you.
The following week, you are running low on diapers again. You submit another request, and your stock is replenished within a few days.
Who is Starting Point and why are they doing this for me?
The next day, you get a text from that same number. It’s someone named Victoria:
“How have you been doing lately? I know everything is so difficult right now.”
It’s been months since someone asked how you are doing. You quickly type out your response, realizing how hungry you are for some meaningful adult interaction.
You and Victoria text back and forth for the next thirty minutes. She offers to Facetime with you the following day to talk some more. You quickly agree, feeling grateful for the companionship.
The next day, with kids making noise in the background, you sit at your kitchen table and talk to Victoria over Facetime. She asks you questions about you, your family, your life, your work, your struggles, and your passions. The hour ends way too soon, but you are relieved to hear she would love to talk with you again soon. You quickly book a time slot for the following week and eagerly await your chance to connect with her again.
In the weeks that follow, you are still without a job. Restaurants and daycares are still closed, grocery shelves remain bare, and the feeling of isolation thickens.
But you continue to connect with Victoria at Starting Point. You find yourself eagerly awaiting that hour to talk. You feel heard and understood and valued in a way you haven’t in years.
They still deliver those green bags of items you need when you ask for them. Victoria explains the “Start Here” program to you. You learn that you can participate in these weekly appointments, learn how to be a better mother for your family, while earning bucks you can spend on essential baby items.
You are so excited to sign up for this program. The Starting Point building is reopening to clients in a few weeks, and you cannot wait to meet Victoria face-to-face.
You are filled with hope at the realization that you finally feel supported. You are beginning to believe in yourself as a mother in a way you never have before.
You realize you have a long way to go, and that things will not be easy.
But you also recognize just how far you’ve come. You acknowledge what you have accomplished on your own, and how much more you can do with the support of people like Victoria.
I can do this, you say to yourself.
For some of you, this story feels all too familiar. You can relate with many of these realities. For others, you simply had to imagine the heartache that comes with struggles like these.
This post is inspired by the mothers who have leaned on Starting Point in their moment of need. The last several months have brought challenges for many, but especially those whose struggles began long before the global pandemic.
By supporting Starting Point, you are bringing hope and healing to the families right here in your very own backyard.
To participate in our current fundraiser, the Baby Bottles Campaign, please contact us.