Struggling to Make Ends Meet

“The pantry filled my house with food when I couldn’t afford it.”

Kristi Bussler picks up groceries in JohnstonWhen Kristi lost her job in Human Resources more than 4 years ago, it was the beginning of a difficult time that continues today. Without her income from work, she was unable to afford her car and it was repossessed.

Since losing her job she has struggled to find a permanent position that can support them. She often takes temporary jobs – that pay less and don’t include benefits – and is “applying for anything under the sun” to get back into the workforce.

She has also had repeated surgeries for a torn rotator cuff and is limited in the type of work she can do.

“I managed a McDonalds for 11 years and worked in HR almost 9 years. I have experience and I want to work. I’m willing to go do any job, but there are mostly temp and part-time jobs that don’t pay enough. And with my son to care for, I can’t work 2 jobs like I used to.”

Around the time that Kristi lost her job, she and her husband divorced, leaving her to care for her now 12 year old son. Without her ex-husband’s support, she was unable to manage her mortgage, but she didn’t want to leave her home.

Kristi in parking lotThings were looking desperate.

“Three years ago, it was an especially bad winter. It just never ended and I had no car and couldn’t afford heat in the house. We heated up water on the stove to take baths. I didn’t even mind it for me, but, for my son, it was terrible.”

A friend at church told her about the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and Saint Philip Food Pantry, a member agency of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. They visited her home and even brought food to help stock her shelves. Then they worked with her on a plan to get out of her difficult situation.

“I really needed help. I was losing everything.”

She avoided foreclosure by selling her home and is now living with her son in an apartment. They live in Johnston, a suburb of Providence, where there are few resources available for people in need of food assistance.

“Paul from the church drove me and my son around everywhere we had to go. And he helped us find a car. I didn’t get food stamps so I relied on the pantry for food. And that gave me some money to pay for other expenses like the car, rent and heat. Now we’re in a nice apartment with heat and utilities included. I only have to pay for cooking gas and electricity.”

Kristi still visits the pantry every other week. “The pantry filled my house with food when I couldn’t afford it.”

She tries to remain strong for her son, but she worries about the future. She is collecting TDI but it is running out and she doesn’t know what she’ll do next. “With everything running out, how am I going to provide for him?”

Even with the assistance she’s receiving, it still may not be enough to make it.