On Tuesday I told you about a woman in Davis County who asked if I would raise money for a family down on its luck.
The family had a child come home from the hospital after a car accident two months ago. They have several other kids and not a lot of money. They are living in a motel.
I told the caller, "No."
I'm not heartless, just realistic.
"Let me give you some numbers to call," I said. "I can raise money, but these folks can get them a new life."
Guess what? They are!
Before we get into that, here are the phone numbers:
* Catholic Community Services, 801-394-5944. CCS runs the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank but is as close as you will find to one-stop shopping for other poverty program information.
* Ogden Housing Authority, 801-627-5851. This does Section 8 housing vouchers.
* St. Anne's Center, 801-621-5036. St. Anne's runs a homeless shelter, but also does much more, including emergency housing assistance because, really, who wants to live in a homeless shelter for a long time?
Know anyone in need of housing or who has other trouble? Those are the big three. If those agencies can't do it, they know who can.
So what happened with that family?
On Tuesday I got a call from John Terry, caseworker at St. Anne's.
John said the lady I gave those numbers to had called him. He's working with the family, meeting them again Friday. If the family agrees to go into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families housing program "I'll have them in an apartment next Friday."
That's what I call service.
John said the situation was not as simple as my caller understood, which, as I said Tuesday, is normal.
The family does have a halfway decent income, not minimum wage. However, the mother has taken medical leave to care for her injured child, so they're hurting.
Why is the family still in a motel? Apparently they hit a rough patch a year ago, got evicted, moved to the motel "and they've been in a rut ever since."
He said the father is shy about asking for aid.
"My job as a social worker is to try to establish a little bit of trust, because so many families in need, they see shame. I try to show them they've been providing for their family. This is assistance for them."
Just as Marcie Valdez over at Catholic Community Service suggested, John is recommending TANF housing aid, a 2009 economic stimulus program.
This is no giveaway. TANF provides a down payment and four months rent. In exchange, clients have to be actively working with Department of Workforce Services and must either find work or improve the job they have.
"It's really stringent," he said. "The four months is performance-based so if the family is not improving their employment situation, the benefits stop."
Four months to find a good job or lose your new home. Could you do that? The folks John works with do.
"It's a collaborative work," he said, involving families, friends, Division of Workforce Services and employers. "And I can tell you, I've had 50 families on TANF, and I have not had one return to the shelter."
Yes, we taxpayers are paying for TANF. In return, we get fewer families in trouble. When families have homes, their neighborhoods are more stable. When families get better income, they pay us back by paying more taxes.
As political populist Jim Hightower says, "My daddy always told me, we all do better when we all do better."
That's what we're doing here.