Friday, September 29, 2006

Money Matters

Money Matters-
It didn't take long after I had started this job to realize that I might be involved in the Avon People. Avon is a name I decided to call folks who come in for assistance. At my home church they ring a doorbell. There was a time that I helped with that ministry andthat's what I decided to call the assistance calls. It paints a more pleasant picture of a hard fact of life. Here, at work church, we have no doorbells. People needing help don't rely on doorbells to be heard.

I hold a lot of empathy for people in need. Whether emotional, monetary, spiritual, I'm one of those people on a daily basis. I need to have people around me who I trust, I need to feel adequate at my job. I need a life. need need need.

I want our assistance offering to be available to families who truly are in need. How nice is it tobe able to offer spiritual fuel and a tank full of gas in the same sitting? Yes, possibilities when there are none to be found sounds like a good God thing to me. It doesn't make me feel good, but it does make me feel as if we can provide tools to others so that they can stay on a path of possibilities.

I meet and get to know some very interesting folks. That story will follow this one today.
This particular entry is to give examples of the state of my middle aged human condition. It used to be, when I first started working the Avon Ministry, that I offered snack bags to visitors. I have found that if you are truly needing food, you will accept food. On the other hand, if you are truly wanting cold cash, food won't do, even if you've used that ( I need food) line with me. So, the snack bags act as a screen. I borrowed the idea from my home church who now gives out 30 or 50 bags a day, in a two hour block. Home church resides in a hungry neighborhood.

After a while, I found that additional resources like gas, or a few bucks would come in handy at times,maybe someone needed their meds, or money for the bus. So, I asked if we could buy bus tickets, and store cards to cover incidentals. That works great. I am careful about giving them out, but when I feel like they can help, they are passed out with ease.

Still, there were many times when eviction notices called for a check or, a cut off notice, security deposit. So we decided that i would be able to write a check to a third party- i.e. the electric company, or a landlord sometimes. This measure has helped speed along the process. I can't tell you how many times I've needed the Pastor's signature when he's right in the middle of saving someone's soul or sanity. When the Pastor is in, He's the go-to guy, but sometimes the avon people have to wait. That's okay.

The system is working pretty well with one exception. I tend to, out of habit, sign my own name when I write a check. I mean there is clearly a disconnect. Once I start writing, I complete the process. Then, the check has to be voided, and we start over again. I think we've spent more money in reordered checks than I have in the actual giving of funds . I am kidding of course, but it is irritating to me that I continue to play office with these checks, rendering them useless.

I've tried to come up with some strategies to help us save paper. Sometimes, I write the check title line and then put my pen down. I find that overall, this stopaction creates anxiety in the person sitting across from me. Their relief when the checkbook comes out quickly dissipates when I put the pen down. Eyebrows furrow, tears well. ... Once I pick up the ink again, everything rests. Rests, until I jerk back into my chair, plop my pen down on the desk and mutter, " Rats! Criminy! UGH!" These comments are followed by a quick tear out and tear up of the now- useless check.

The visitors lose their sense of relief- go straight into a second round of anxious anticipation; I begin writing a new check and the cycle starts all over again. Recently, I 've decided that this system may have some hidden value. If it is too nervewracking , maybe we'll have fewer requests, and secondly, maybe I should ask the Pastor if we can start giving out valium. That might make all parties feel better.

I don't know what we'll do when checks are outdated, when debit cards are the only way to go. Guess we'll deal with that when it comes around. This, my friends, is yet another example of how fortunate I am that my bosses are tolerant of their church chick.

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