Millions of people live paycheck to paycheck, sometimes working two and three jobs to make ends meet. They scrape to meet their weekly bills. They worry over money, terrified that one sickness could land them in such dire financial straits that homelessness becomes a real possibility.
With no time left in the day to add another job, and ineligible for government assistance because they are over the poverty line, where do they turn when the worst occurs?
If friends and family are unable to help, what should they do? Lose their homes, freedom and independence so they can go on government assistance?
Fortunately, one charity is devoted specifically to assisting people who find themselves in this difficult place.
Modest Needs is a nonprofit organization that gives grants to people who live just over the poverty line and are therefore ineligible for government aid. These often are the same hardworking people who have climbed out of poverty, but teeter on the edge due to an unforeseen financial obstacle. The charity exists solely to supply short-term assistance to people experiencing a financial emergency that will leave them broken if they receive no assistance.
The challenge is to help without fostering dependence. To that end, grants average from $750 to $1,200 and households can petition for only one grant at a time. Individuals may reapply, but must wait one year from the time their grant was fulfilled. This allows others the chance for help while also encouraging self-sufficiency.
No one has to pay to enter the program. Recipients do not have to repay their grants, nor are they required to do anything to receive the money. The grants are freely given.
Though Modest Needs willingly helps anyone who has fallen on hard times, the organization focuses on aiding public servants like school teachers, first responders and military veterans. Veterans, in particular, having just returned from active duty, are transitioning back to civilian life and possibly waiting on a government check. Workers at Modest Needs want to make sure that people who devote their lives to serving others are as well cared for as people who receive charity from others.
Modest Needs is completely funded by private donors and receives no government aid. Each site-approved “need” is crowdfunded. Potential donors read through stories of individuals asking for help and give money to the people whose stories they find most compelling. The charity maintains control of all of the money; none of it touches recipients’ hands. Instead, Modest Needs pays the person’s vendor or creditor directly, which allows donors the peace of mind of knowing their money is being used for the purpose intended.
The charity strictly manages cases and its officials are determined to maintain the integrity of the programs they sponsor on their website. As such, they thoroughly screen potential grant recipients.
Though Modest Needs’ methods of giving are limited (they don’t, for example, provide gas money or help with bounced check fees since that would require giving cash to people), they will do things like pay utility bills, medical bills and rent. The charity posts the story of the needy individual or household and solicits donors to give any amount toward the stated need. If, after 60 days, the project remains unfunded, the money goes back into donors’ accounts and the applicant may reapply to crowdfund their need once more.
So who are some of the people who have benefited from Modest Needs? Some of the hundreds of examples include:
• People on unpaid medical leave;
• Military veterans behind on their mortgage;
• Someone recently unemployed;
• A newly employed person who had yet to receive her first paycheck;
• A person who needed to pay for car repairs to be able to commute to work;
• Those trying to catch up on late payments after a period of unemployment;
• Widows facing unexpected home-repair costs;
• People struggling to keep utilities on while caring for sick relatives.
Modest Needs helps struggling, hardworking individuals who want nothing more than to keep working and supporting themselves, but who have nowhere else to turn when such crises arise. An organization assisting such salt-of-the-earth, everyday Americans deserves recognition, credit and the help of those who are able.
Would you consider donating to a Modest Needs applicant? A gift as small as $5 — in combination with the generosity of others — could mean the difference between homelessness and shelter. Take a look at the wonderful stories of people who have been helped. Their sincere gratitude is a reminder of hope. And if you are struggling financially, check out Modest Needs’ guidelines to see if you may qualify for help.