Stepping Up When the Government Shut Down

By Julie Wilsey

In January, the Federal shut-down impacted more than 100 workers and families in the Cape Fear area. The dedicated federal workers continued to work despite receiving a paycheck. It was heart wrenching to watch the Federal workers (TSA, FAA, FBI, National Weather Service, Coast Guard and the rest of the alphabet soup) do their important jobs while uncertain if they would get a paycheck as scheduled.

Adding to the complexity was the fact that their regulatory role prohibited gifts from public citizens. Yes, there were numerous memos banning gifts of cash and other forms of assistance. Despite the best intentions, the Federal government had regulations against such help. As the shut-down neared one month, or 8% of their annual pay, people in the community started to worry about the impact on the worker and family unit. The financial and psychological stress was difficult on the adults, and it had to be equally hard on the children. They too were sacrificing favorite treats and discretionary spending to make sure the basics were covered – rent, gas, car payments, and electricity.

In steps the Cape Fear Area United Way and their network of partner agencies. With a few calls, they were able to leverage a partner who normally serves families at or below the poverty line. Missing paychecks, the federal workers were in a tight spot. On Friday, January 25, 2019 Nourish NC arrived at ILM Airport’s loading dock with a Food Drop for all of the Federal workers. They had forty-five pounds of nutritious food for each family. It included bread, pantry staples, and fresh produce. In less than three hours, more than one hundred families loaded their bundle of nutrition into their trunk, headed home to their family. Everyone who participated in the event was invigorated with hope, joy, and thankfulness. It’s amazing how forty-five pounds of food can bring smiles to parents, children, and volunteers.

This is just one of many ways the Cape Fear Area United Way helps people in our area. Whether it is a loss of employment, a health crisis, natural disaster, or the Federal shut-down, the United Way is always ready to mobilize partner agencies and resources to help those in need. With their help and the support employees who pledge through payroll deduction, the United Way is working to make the Cape Fear region a better, stronger community for families.

View WWAY’s footage of the event here.

View WECT’s footage of the event here.