The stories below come from telephone and email interviews with men and women who have benefitted from FEEA's Emergency Assistance program in the past few years. Each willingly came forward to share his or her story in hopes it would spur others to give or seek help.
Debra Hunt has been a proud member of the Army National Guard for more than 15 years and a proud federal employee for more than five. While going through a divorce, her car’s transmission gave out and, added to the monthly car note, the repair bill was going to be more than she could afford. She briefly considered taking a loan from her TSP, but learned about FEEA from an EAP counselor instead. Hunt appreciated the difference between a FEEA no-interest loan and a traditional bank loan and was glad not to need to raid her retirement account in order to get to work every day. Easy payroll deductions to repay the loan meant she hardly missed the money over time. Hunt is now a proud CFC donor to FEEA #11185 and really likes that, “I know where the money goes and I know it works!”
Judith O’Neal has been an HHS employee since 2007 and first learned about FEEA a little over a year into her federal career. O’Neal was struggling financially due to the unexpected loss of a second income in her household and confided in a friend who worked for the Small Business Administration. The friend told her about FEEA, and then:
"I contacted FEEA, filled out the application and the agency was so generous to offer me a no-interest loan which helped me tremendously. I was able to bring that money to the gas company, thus making my heating bill much more manageable and allowing me to work out payments with the gas company. It was truly a blessing for me that FEEA was able to be a viable resource for me with this hardship situation I was thrust into. I am forever grateful to FEEA and have since become a contributor to this wonderful organization through CFC. Again, many many thanks and blessings for the help and aid from FEEA to federal employees."
Cynthia Dean began her federal career as a student aide while still in college and was hired full-time after graduating. More than 28 years later, she is still happy and proud to be a federal employee. She’s also sorry she didn’t learn about FEEA until much more recently, though very glad the emergency loan program was there for her when she needed it. Dean got in a bind when her car kept breaking down, over and over. As a single mom with a daughter in college, she skimped on other bills to get the car repaired time after time and finally just couldn’t catch-up. A no-interest FEEA loan helped her get back on track and the small amount that comes out of her paycheck has been easy to deal with as well as convenient. Says Dean, “FEEA is an awesome thing, especially for single parents who find it hard to save for emergencies. I was really grateful not to have to ask family or friends for help.”
IRS employee Julandra Williams had the great good fortune to reconnect with an old friend after many years apart and then four years ago to happily marry the man who had become her best friend. But the happiness was not to last as her husband was diagnosed with aggressive colon cancer less than three years into their marriage and lost his job. Williams was suddenly faced with being the only breadwinner in the family and trying to balance work and caring for her critically ill husband. She feels blessed to work in a place where both her supervisor and fellow employees care about her and is enormously grateful to everyone who has donated leave to her, as well as policies that allow more flexible work hours and a supervisor committed to finding a workable solution. Williams is also thankful that an attorney in her office who donates to FEEA in the CFC each year shared information about the emergency loan program at just the right time to help her avoid having her gas cut off in the middle of a Michigan winter. She appreciated how easy the application process was and how simple the repayment process is. Today, Williams’s husband is receiving hospice care at home and she is still splitting her time between work and spending time with him. She offers this advice to her fellow feds, “It’s important for us to help each other, and to ask for help when we need it. You can’t eat pride.”
Regina Winn, an EPA employee, has faced a slew of medical issues in the past few years, including surgery for early heart failure. She first leared about FEEA thanks to a friend who volunteered for the local FEEA scholarship committee and later received childcare tuition assistance via an agency program administered by FEEA, but she had forgotten about the emergency loan program until she got a reminder in the form of FEEA’s monthly e-newsletter. Medical bills put Winn behind on her utilities and homeowner’s insurance, but a no-interest loan from FEEA put her back on track and allowed her to focus on her health. She is feeling more positive these days and hopes sharing her story will point someone else who needs help in the right direction.
Jesus Rodriguez got caught in the middle of a political fight last year as one of the hundreds of FAA employees whose paychecks stopped coming when Congress failed to reauthorize funding on time. Rodriguez’s wife works hard as a stay-at-home mom caring for their children, so his was the only paycheck the family relied on. Though he had heard about FEEA before, Rodriguez says he was unaware a loan might be available to him until he received an email from his boss just before the first missed paycheck. He appreciated the easy application process and jokes that filling out the application itself almost took longer than getting a check. Rodriguez appreciates the easy repayment process and says having it come directly out of his paycheck means one less thing to worry about each month. He is grateful that avenues of assistance like FEEA are available to feds and now shares his knowledge with co-workers at every opportunity.
Social Security Administration employee Mashetta Simpson has been a fed for 15 years. She needed help after emergency surgery exhausted her leave and forced her to take leave without pay. The temporary lack of income caused her to fall behind on utility payments, but a FEEA no-interest loan helped clear the debt and get her back on track. Simpson was pleased with the simple application and allotment process and was happy to have her loan paid back in a short amount of time. She is grateful that a program exists to help federal employees through tough times.
Christopher Eldridge, an IRS employee and a member of NTEU, first learned about FEEA when reviewing the various benefits available for IRS employees. When the company his wife worked for closed and she lost her job, he was glad to know FEEA was there with help. Eldridge’s wife was told only a week in advance, and around the holidays, that she would be out of work. Unsure if they would be able to keep their heads above water and make rent, Eldridge contacted FEEA about obtaining a no-interest loan. With FEEA’s help, the Eldridges were able to pay their rent and get themselves back on track financially.
VA employee Adrienne Tilly has received help from FEEA multiple times during her federal career. She tells the story best in her own words:
I cannot begin to express my gratitude to FEEA for they how they have assisted me through several financial difficulties. I have needed assistance several times in the past, and each time they have approved my loan request. The funds were sent promptly.
On one occasion, I was close to losing my home, due to my own illness, and situations which occurred within my family. On another occasion, my granddaughter tested positive for lead. I received a grant from our County Board of Health to replace the lead-based in our home, but was short of the amount needed for the total cost. Once again, FEEA came to my rescue. I received another loan; otherwise, I would have lost $10,000 in grant monies for lack of $1,000.
The latest was due to the death of my aunt in GA, for which I had to travel with, and assist my 90-year-old mother, who is not in good health, to attend the funeral of her only remaining sibling. This was an unexpected expense; but once again, FEEA assisted me with a loan.
If it had not been for FEEA, I don’t know what my situation would be right now. I will always be grateful, and will continue to contribute to FEEA thru CFC.