TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The coronavirus pandemic has stressed families financially and experts say more are struggling.
According to the most recent data supplied by the United Way of the Wabash Valley, more than 30,000 Wabash Valley families are considered working poor. They make enough money to keep them above the poverty line but not enough to pay all their bills. The pandemic has forced more families into this category and below it.
Courtney Wagle is a single mother of three and has lived in Terre Haute all her life. Back in March, she and her kids found themselves in a hopeless and helpless situation.
"Everybody struggles but I've never struggled this bad."
Courtney, a bartender, was out of work. The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of her bar. She thought it would be a short setback.
"Then those two or three weeks passed and I kind of ran out of savings and then I freaked out. I was like 'oh no.' Like, once the bank account hits zero, that kind of got a little bit scary there."
Out of work and out of options, Courtney and her kids lost their car and their home. But, help was out there.
Abby Desboro is the Marketing and Communications Director for the United Way of the Wabash Valley. The United Way's goal is to lift families out of their financial struggles and into stability.
"We came together as a board and decided that people in our community were going to need help."
It partnered with the Wabash Valley Community Foundation to establish an emergency COVID-19 relief fund. Close to a million dollars from that fund has benefitted a hundred local organizations just like Reach Services.
Desboro says, "They're doing direct case management, helping people that are homeless, getting roofs over people's heads, helping them find jobs."
That's how Courtney and her family got help. She called Reach Services and the agency eliminated some of her burden, placing her in a new home.
"They kind of slowly show you how to rebuild yourself financially again after being hit from something like that."
Courtney is back to work but the fear she could be right back where she was earlier this year is very real.
"That's my biggest fear is dealing with what we just had to all over again."
Desboro says the United Way of the Wabash Valley could see fewer small donations this year. The agency has adapted to the pandemic and is offering online giving options this holiday season.