“Imagine with me what it is like to be a senior in Harbor Country. I worked all my life in restaurants in Harbor Country. Likely I poured coffee for you and took your order for food. The restaurants where I worked were open 7 months a year because of the seasonal nature of our economy. My employer could not afford to pay for health insurance or set aside retirement for me. I could not pay for health insurance or retirement as each year I struggled to make it through the time of unemployment to spring when seasonal residents and tourists would return.

Today I am 70 years old, I live on $700 per month and receive $16 a month for food stamps. I struggle to survive. I pay $200 per month for lot rent, $97 every other month for my water bill, $250 for a budget bill payment on electricity and gas as my home is not well insulated, and my medical co-pays average $200 a month. Each month I juggle paying my bills – it is frustrating to have worked all my life and to end in this situation.”

This story is not unusual; many seniors as well as people with disabilities in Harbor Country are in the same situation. In response, Neighbor by Neighbor created the “Sponsor a Neighbor: Restoring Dignity and Hope” program, inviting people to help support our neighbors on fixed incomes. Neighbor by Neighbor will pay one bill per month for those whose expenses exceed their incomes to give them room in the budget to pay all their bills and live with dignity. It allows people who worked all their lives to remain safely housed with their utilities on. They don’t have to choose between food, medicines and paying utility bills.

Applicants must complete a detailed budget to qualify and set up a budget plan with utility companies. Neighbor by Neighbor regularly monitors participants to see if there have been any changes to their circumstances.

If you would like to support Sponsor a Neighbor, you can pledge a specific amount on a regular basis or give a lump sum, designated to “Sponsor a Neighbor.” For more information, see our website at www.neighborbyneighbor.org or call 269-231-0648.

Neighbor by Neighbor serves primarily residents of Chikaming, New Buffalo and Three Oaks Townships, The Village of Three Oaks and the City of New Buffalo. Assistance includes linkage with other service providers, emergency food, assistance with rent/mortgage and utilities. Funding is provided by The Pokagon Fund, United Way, Berrien Community Foundation, individuals and churches.

Neighbor by Neighbor

Harbert

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