After a life-threatening accident leaves this single father of two without work and facing a mountain of medical debt, Michael is working his way back to financial stability.
A flash of light. The sound of tearing steel. An airbag expands to protect its driver. Bits of glass and hot rubber lay strewn across the road.
Michael makes it to the hospital alive, but with a grave wound to his head. He’s an electrician and a single father of two. When he wakes up in recovery, he’s faced with a traumatic brain injury. The doctors aren’t hopeful, but that doesn’t mean they don’t try.
From the fall of 2016 to the fall of 2017, Michael goes through intensive care and therapy, and his progress is astounding. When released from the rehabilitation hospital, the only lasting impact is an issue with short-term memory loss. His doctors are amazed. The debt collectors, not so much.
A year without work and constant medical payments left Michael without any savings to fall back on, and eventually, his debt and utility payments came calling. And that wasn’t the worst of it. The ultimate shock came when he finally made it home. He returned not to warm light and the chance at a relaxing snooze in his own bed but to a termination notice from his electricity provider.
No power. No money. Utilities and debt collectors nipping at his heels. All with two children to feed, keep warm, care for — it was almost too much, and Michael needed help. With his sister at his side, he sought it at Catholic Charities, a United Way of Massachusetts Bay Lead partner agency.
Together, they got to work.
Michael, his sister, and the agency staff started by organizing Michael’s finances: determining which payments should take priority and how he could craft a budget that put those priorities first. As a stopgap, Catholic Charities provided monetary support so he wouldn’t have to worry about having his utilities shut off. They also put together detailed referrals to other services in the area, any they thought he might need. Most importantly, their assistance helped Michael ensure he could get his electric bill settled, avoiding termination altogether.
In the end, the work paid off. Michael started work just a week after his initial meeting with Catholic Charities, ensuring he wouldn’t have to make the long climb back to stability without a fulfilling career or other steady income. At first, he wouldn’t have the same financial safety net he once did, but now there was a new support structure in place: Catholic Charities and the network of service providers they’d connected him to.
It may have been a nightmare for Michael to find his feet again, but self-sufficiency was now well within reach, and with it, a pathway toward life after the accident.
Snapshot: How we’re helping to move families out of poverty
- $6.9M – United Way’s annual investment in Moving Families Out of Poverty
- 1,627 – Individuals placed in and retaining jobs for at least 90 days
- $238 – the average increase in annual emergency savings for families receiving financial coaching
We work with 51 strategic partners across 142 communities to move families out of poverty. Our partners include:
- Catholic Charities
- Jewish Vocational Services, Inc.
- Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND)
- Roca, Inc.
- Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment
Make A Financial Impact
Ensures two families can enjoy Thanksgiving meals.
Funds one-on-one financial coaching for one individual.
Provides twelve families with emergency heating assistance during the winter.
Provides emergency support that prevents two families from being evicted.