Jennifer Bowman of Dawsonville got the surprise of her life as she arrived to work one day in early January.
“My husband and I both lost our jobs the same day,” said the mother of three. “We were in complete shock. It blew us away.”
Not knowing which way to turn or what to do, Bowman began with what she thought would be the most obvious ways to save the few dollars the family had in the bank.
The couple had recently cut through their savings on medical expenses for their youngest daughter, who has special needs.
“We had nothing left in savings. We had nothing really to fall back on,” she said.
They immediately turned off the cable television and quit using cellphones.
They started washing dishes by hand.
They even put a timer in the bathroom to make sure no one wasted too much hot water in the shower.
While the bills were getting lower, Bowman knew it wouldn’t be long before her worst nightmare, running out of food and money and being kicked to the streets, would come true.
Bowman, who for years had donated clothing and household items to the RIC Rack Thrift Store in Dawsonville, credits the same organization for helping her family get back on track.
“I knew they sold furniture and clothing and things like that, but I never knew they had a food pantry,” said Bowman. “It was the second month in February that we still had no income, so we came up here and were able to get food.”
Volunteers at RIC Rack also told Bowman about a number of other local organizations that assist with utilities, rent and even childcare.
“Who knows where we would be right now without the help we received,” Bowman said. “It’s pretty scary to think about it. We would have been out on the streets with nothing. We would have lost everything.”
It’s been about four months since Bowman and her husband lost their jobs, and now they’re both working again.
However, she said they are not forgetting what could have been for them and their children. The couple now spends at least one day a week volunteering at RIC Rack, helping others just like themselves.
“I figured I had a lot of extra time, and I decided to utilize that time by helping people in similar situations or possibly worse off,” said Bowman, who enjoys working in the food pantry.
“With my new job I’m able to set my schedule, so I set aside one day a week where I can still come up here.”