As the government shutdown enters day 31, there are a lot of folks who are struggling to manage financially and emotionally. I work very hard sometimes to highlight the upside of things, and this situation is no exception.
Just to get a sense of the numbers, nationwide about 380,000 federal employees from nine departments and several smaller agencies have been forced to go on furlough because of the government shutdown, which is now the longest in U.S. history. Another 420,000 employees, many who work in public-safety positions, are working without pay because their jobs are considered essential. They were assured of back pay once the shutdown is over, but that doesn’t put gas in the tank or food on the table today.
That means about 1,500 federal workers living and working in Vermont are directly affected, and 2,400 New Hampshire residents are furloughed due to the government shutdown.
We all have the opportunity now to show that we are a strong community that looks out for each other. I want to pause here and point out that I do not, and will not discuss my political opinions, because they are not relevant here.
What is relevant is that there are people who were doing just fine a month ago, and now they aren’t sure how to get the rent paid or feed their families.And those of us who do have a steady paycheck might find ourselves with a few dollars left over at the end of the week, or might find that we are able to go without a latte or a restaurant meal in favor of donating that money to resources for those who are struggling.
And it is my sincerest hope that we can remember that there are people who struggle outside of the government shutdown because of illness, layoffs, injuries, and because life happens in a big way sometimes, and that we figure out that these small measures we take now to help the unpaid government employees can be applied to anyone who is in a rough place.
Here Are Some Local Resources if You Are Looking for Help
211 is an online and phone-accessible database of assistance resources.
Your Bank or Credit Union
Bank and business leaders joined lawmakers at the Vermont Statehouse last Thursday, encouraging Vermonters impacted by the partial government shutdown to come forward sooner than later. "Don't hide, don't put your head in the sand, engage your bank, engage your financial service provider," said Chris D’Elia of the Vermont Banker’s Association.
"If you have a checking account and your account is stressed at this point, maybe you're overdrawn, the banks will consider waiving all fees," said D’Elia. Financial institutions are evaluating things on a case by case basis, some are offering short-term loans and assistance.
Federal employees can, in most circumstances, file for unemployment benefits during a government shutdown. The Office of Personnel Management has recently updated information on how federal workers can file for unemployment insurance during the partial government shutdown.
Employees’ eligibility for unemployment varies by state. In most circumstances, the state where an employee’s official duty station is located is the state that will determine a worker’s unemployment eligibility in the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees Program. Federal employees who are eligible can apply for unemployment benefits on or after the first day of their furlough.
Several Upper Valley businesses are offering free admission and services to unpaid government workers. The Montshire Museum, Americana Grill, and Billings Farm are just a few.
You might be asking yourself why you would make entertainment a priority, and the answer is simple. Things are tough, and that means stress is high. When stress is high, everyone feels it, including the kids. This tough part will pass, and keeping life as normal and fun as possible while we wait for it to pass means that it will have a smaller overall impact on us and our kids.
So take advantage of opportunities to have fun and enjoy yourselves. It is an important part of your mental health, and you’re going to need that mental health when things start up again!
The Upper Valley Haven
The Haven provides temporary shelter and educational programming for families and adults as well as food to anyone in need. They have a kitchen and dining room that is open and available to those who need it, as well as resource coordinators, warm clothes, and friendly support.
Upper Valley Food Shelves
The Valley News has a well-kept list of food shelves on both sides of the river. You can find it here.
Your Church or Meeting House
Whatever community organization you belong to, remember that you belong to that community, Please ask for help when you have a need, and even before you have a need! As a general rule, people like being good to people, and are eager to help someone out.
Here Are Some Things You Can Do To Help.
If you are in the position to help someone out, you can donate to any of the charitable organizations or food shelves in your area. Food items, warm clothes, gas cards, and volunteering are all good ideas, but contact your local organization and ask what they need most.
Offer Your Expertise
Do you own a business? Can you offer something to help? Maybe you are a salon owner who can offer a free haircut or manicure. Maybe you are a tax preparer who could offer a free preparation session. Maybe you have a good car and some time on your hands to help people carpool to where they need to be. Maybe you are a daycare provider who can create vouchers for families working without pay. If we all give what we can of what we have, then we will all be in a better place.
I was reminded by a post and on Facebook the other day that sometimes when someone is asking for help it looks a lot like they are complaining. Keep in mind hat we don’t complain when things are good. We complain when we are struggling to meet our needs.Be nice as much as possible. I’m not saying be a pushover. I’m not saying allow people to walk on you, I’m saying try to look beyond what is on the surface, and be kind first.
Got Any Ideas?
So, this is just what i could think of off the top of my head working under a deadline, but there are many many ways that you can help someone, not just getting through this government shutdown, but everyday.
The Role of Green Mountain Hypnosis
We are really fortunate to have lived through some really tough times and benefited from the kindness of strangers to meet our most basic needs. And we are just as fortunate to be in a position now where we can help others.
We are now offering free services to unpaid government employees who would like to use hypnosis to manage stress, weight, anger, quit smoking, to develop new coping strategies, and more. Please contact us for more information. You will need to show a valid government ID.
You’ve got this. It is going to get so much better!∎