Friends who care
Lynn Owen was another Central Floridian who participated in our $15 a Day Challenge. After the Challenge, Lynn shared with us that the most difficult aspect of consistently living on such a tight budget would be not having the funds to visit his children, who live several hours away. That brought up a saddening question for us: even when a tight budget allows someone to meet their basic needs (food, shelter), can they afford to maintain their close relationships?
“For me, staying on a budget for food was easiest if I was able to eat in. Things like cereal, milk, bananas, or toast for breakfast; tuna fish, bread and a pickle for lunch; and grilled fish, pork or beef with vegetables for dinner. I was glad to note that healthy eating is relatively inexpensive, as long as you have a place to store and prepare your food…My exercise was limited to running and push-ups since going to the YMCA was out because of the cost.
“My biggest issue was with transportation. For example, I couldn’t give a friend of mine a ride to work…But the biggest issue is my frequent trips to Panama City, Florida, where my children live. Typically I go up every 2 weeks to visit them over the weekend. Gas there and back is $120. If I really lived on $15 a day, I could make the trip every 6 weeks if I was able to save $3 a day.
“Fortunately for me, this challenge only lasted a week – any longer on such a limited budget and I could see how I could become defeated about life and the situation I have been dealt.
“Something I learned: when I told friends what I was doing they would offer gas money, buy me coffee, or buy me a meal. I learned that there are caring people who want to help those in need, if we ask or explain our situation.”
Our favorite part of Lynn’s story is that within a week, he met numerous individuals who were generous and understanding of his situation. Our hope is that as our clients (and other Central Floridians in need) strive to return to self-sufficiency, they will meet people like Lynn’s friends, who are willing to step up and reach out to their neighbors in need.