Meshessna of Freeport is a single mother of two daughters, doing the best she can to retain a sense of normalcy after her divorce two years ago. “I want my kids to be able to stay in their same school, still be close to their friends, live as close to the same life they were living before the divorce,” she explained.
But maintaining this life proved difficult, as now she was managing her household with only a single salary. “While I was married, with two incomes, I didn’t really struggle to pay my bills. Now that I’m a single mother, with only one household income, it’s more challenging to get by,” she said. Despite working full-time, Meshessna, like many of those who's income falls under the ALICE* threshold for survival, realized she needed help when it came to affording all of her monthly expenses.
When the weather turned cold, and her oil use went up, she found herself compromising on the temperature of the house in an effort to conserve her resources. Having a warm home means everything to Meshessna and her family, especially because her daughters, aged 11 and 13, need to be comfortable in the house, and be able to invite their friends over without worrying about being embarrassed. “My daughters shouldn’t have to bundle up like they are going outside, when they are just sitting on the couch doing homework,” Meshessna said.
Recognizing that this was not a healthy situation for her children, Meshessna reached out to United Way of Long Island’s partner agency Choice for All for help where she learned about Project Warmth.
“To be able to get this assistance is just a blessing,” Meshessna shared. “I tell everyone I know about Project Warmth, that help is out there and it’s not a handout. It’s offered to hard working people, to senior citizens, it’s out there to help you when you need it. It allows you to be able to budget for your other expenses, to turn your heat up a bit more so you don’t have to worry about being cold just because you can’t fill your tank.”
“My girls can have their friends over, to a warm house, with electricity and heat. Even though they’ve faced challenges I never wanted them to face, they are living their mostly-normal life, and that is the most important thing to me. I am beyond grateful to Choice for All, United Way of Long Island, and Project Warmth for this gift.”
*There are 267,000 households on Long Island living above poverty level but lacking the income and resources needed to afford life’s basic necessities. This population, known as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) falls into a dangerous gap that leaves them without government assistance, but unable to afford housing, food, or child care without help. United Way supports ALICE families through our programs, including Project Warmth.