Community lends helping hand to furloughed workers

Resources available for those impacted by the partial government shutdown.

Posted: Jan 16, 2019 6:29 PM

It's day 26 of the government shutdown, and there's no end in sight.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the President to delay his State of the Union address, which is two weeks away.
That could be a signal that no one expects this thing to end, any time soon.

If you want to see how much the shutdown is impacting furloughed workers here in North Alabama, just head to any pawn shop.

Workers at Buster's Pawn Shop on Governors Drive near 565 say they've seen an increase in furloughed workers coming in and trying to sell or pawn their stuff.

"One lady came back by herself; I guess because privacy is a big thing and some people are worried about people knowing their business," assistant broker Angela Huffman said. "She came back, and she took her ring off and gave it to us to secure a loan. She was saying she was furloughed and couldn't say for how long, and the uncertainty made her think something like this because she wasn't sure how she was going to make ends meet or how long she was going to be furloughed at Redstone."

Huffman says she's seen a handful of furloughed workers come into the store this week, each carrying personal items.

"Heirlooms and things that are passed down by grandparents that you keep in your jewelry box for times like this, which you hope that nobody has to resort to that, but they've been bringing it in and inquiring," Huffman said.

The pawn shop says it's offering interest free loans to anyone affected by the shutdown to try to take the pressure off anyone who comes in.

"Being here for the community and reassuring them that we are here for you," Huffman said. "This is a judgement free zone. If you walk in the door, I don't care what you look like or what you have. We'll be glad to help you and make it as comfortable and easy as possible to help make ends meet while you're going through this furlough."

The United Way is helping, too. The Madison County branch says calls to their 2-1-1 help line are up significantly. In the last 14 months, they say they've seen a 73 percent increase of calls. The average amount of calls this past month is 200, but that number spiked close to 300 in the last week.

"That is the beginning of an indicator that folks are starting to go and face situations beyond their means and they can't help themselves," Community Impact Director at United Way Cathy Miller said.

United Way says it will connect you to local agencies that can help with food, shelter, and mental health services.

"It's actually a way to empower people to find a solution for themselves and to lean on their community when those resources are available to help them," Miller said.

United Way has local offices to help connect people in need in Huntsville, Decatur, Athens and Florence. All you have to do is call or text 211. You can also live chat for resources on their website.

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