Asking for help is never an easy thing to do. It is often seen as an attack on one’s honor, and is seen as a form of weakness, greed, or an inability to do one’s part in society. All too often however, life hands us a situation in which we have no choice but to ask for some form or help, in order for us and our family to make it through impossibly hard times. Disasters have no bias, and they happen to us all at some point, regardless of our race, religious beliefs or economic status. Being prepared always helps, but for those who have a lower monetary income, being prepared is a challenge. Sometimes asking for help is the only option there is. This takes more bravery and strength than most people are aware of. In a lot of situations as well, finding this helps takes determination, because it is not always readily available.
Thankfully, for those who need help, there is a wonderful organization in Lagrange Georgia, who has been serving their community and the surrounding areas since 1966. Though they are best known for their affiliation with the LiHeap program, which helps those in need with heating and cooling costs, they have been helping their community with many other things for several decades. From help with prescription drug costs, to gas money to get to vital doctor visits and health screenings, the non-profit organization, Community Action For Improvement (CAFI) has been improving the lives of thousands of people in LaGrange, franklin, Carrolton and the surrounding areas for decades.
I know this because CAFI saved my family and me from being homeless. I had been in a terrible situation in which I was unable to pay my rent, due to health situations beyond my control. I had written many emails, to several people, from government and city officials, to Oprah and even President Trump. I was desperate, and about to be evicted with a small child. I wrote to CAFI, telling them about my situation, telling them about how I am disabled, and I have nowhere else to turn.
The next business day, I received a phone call from a very kind and professional, woman who was my case worker. She spoke to me with kindness and she was very professional. She gave me the gift of hope, which was something I haven’t had in such a very long time. Of all the people I had written to, which was a very long list, she was the only one who had responded.
A few days later, as I waited for my turn to speak with my case worker, I sat in the lobby and spoke with a few other people. There were inspirational quotes here and there, and everyone seemed genuinely happy. Though people were there seeking help, they didn’t seem desperate, they seemed happy to be there, knowing that they were going to get the help they sought, knowing that the people they were there to see would indeed threat them with respect and dignity, and that the process would not be humiliating. The people I saw were smiling, leaving with new clothing or bags of fresh food, with genuine words of thanks on their smiling lips. “I’m thankful for you!” was one thing I remember hearing before I was called in to see my case worker.
Candace Ford was my case worker, and she greeted me with a warm smile and a firm handshake. I was treated with dignity, kindness and as if I were a professional, and not someone seeking help. I was not looked down on in any way, which is something I will never forget. She told me about how well written my letter was and she told me about how she and CAFI wanted to help me and my family in our current situation.
The relief of the help was overwhelming, but the kindness and respect was on a different level of amazing. This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. This wasn’t hours of waiting in line, or being treated like a charity case or humiliated.
This is only the beginning of the level of care and thoughtfulness of what CAFI does, the heart and care that goes into everything that this wonderful organization does can be felt in everything they do.
If you have anything that you think CAFI may be able to help you or someone you know with, please don’t hesitate to contact them. I will forever be thankful that I did.
~ Ms. Amy W