The date or the distance of time between the car accident and my arrival in Garden City to apply for public assistance I cannot remember. My mind had been scrambled in the car accident. My short-term memory had been affected. I had no car. I lost the job I started two weeks before the accident. I had no money. I had no food. What I had was an apartment, a thirteen-month-old baby, and a stroller.
It was a sunny morning, in the fall of 1984. I was living in Hempstead in a one-bedroom apartment. I don’t remember who told me to apply for public assistance or how I knew where to go to do that. But on this morning, I packed up the baby and we went for a very long walk. We strolled out of Hempstead, the pits of poverty, and through the beautiful neighborhoods of Garden City, passed the lovely tutor homes, manicured yards, and islands in the roads.
Social Services was located in a large office building not far from Saks Fifth Ave., Lord and Taylor, and the specialty shops. But, in writing this now, so many years ago, from a period where my mind was scrambled eggs the stores I did not shop in, even in better times, seem somewhat of a mirage.
I don’t recall the worker I spoke with, however, I do remember the bottom line. I was not going to receive WIC benefits, even though I was a: Women with Infant Child in need. I remember being told that I do qualify, however, there was no more money in the budget. The program was closed.
I cannot recall the amount I paid in rent for that one bedroom apartment, what I do remember was the amount exceeded the amount of assistance available for a person with one dependent by two hundred dollars. I was given only a few dollars in Food Stamps and I was advised to stop by a church on my way home.
I arrived at the church in Hempstead, somewhere off Clinton. I remember a side door, darkness, maybe stairs, just picture images flash in my mind like a dream, when I try to recall. I left there with two brown paper bags of groceries which I struggled to balance on the stroller canapy while navigating the spinnie wheels the last mile or so home. I was extremely grateful for the generosity, which filled these bags. Over the years, in thanks, I’ve replenished those offerings tenfold.
I bet you didn’t know just how much your contributions are appreciated! In these difficult times, with so many unemployed and in need, please remember to give generously to your local food pantry. Are you surprised I still remember, twenty something years later? What’s in your pantry?