The nation’s unemployment rate continues to fall, but hidden behind that statistic is the fact that more and more Americans are finding themselves underemployed. This was just the case for John, a young man from Starke County who had moved back in with his parents when he couldn’t find employment in his line of work.

John’s father, Frank, hadn’t worked for five years because of health problems and was trying to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The small family was scraping by on Social Security checks for John’s mother, Lily, when John finally found work at a local tree service company. The wage wasn’t much, but it was just enough to keep the three of them afloat.

Then tragedy struck. Lily passed away suddenly and John and Frank were hit with the double blows of overwhelming grief and a dire financial situation. That’s when John turned to Community Services of Starke County, a partner to The Salvation Army. He met with Rhonda Overmyer and laid before her his family’s struggles.

John needed to settle a $900 bill from the local gas company in order to keep his father’s heat on, but he had faith leading him and keeping his hope alive. He was prepared to do whatever was necessary to remove this extra burden from Frank’s already weary back.

“I couldn’t help by ponder how it was this man continued to go on,” Rhonda says, recalling John’s visit. “We all know how hard it is to deal with the loss of a loved one, especially when that loved one is your mother, and then to have to contend with the threat of your utility being disconnected. John’s determination and resolve to keep fighting back, even when the odds were against him, is an inspiration.”

With funds from The Salvation Army and the Energy Assistance Program, John was able to settle the bill and face the future with renewed hope. He continues to support his father and search for ways to increase his earnings, but John will forever be grateful for the help he received during the most difficult months of his life.

(Want to learn more about The Salvation Army’s Service Extension program in Indiana? Click here to visit our Service Extension page!)