“Anna” is a single mother with one son who lives with her.
In order to make ends meet Anna was working two jobs but she came in to our Assistance Office because she got laid off of her waitressing job. She has been searching for another part time job and has been getting by, but because of the unexpected loss of job, she was now facing an eviction.
With Good Samaritan’s help she was able to get her month’s rent paid and make future arrangements with her Landlord.
Things are looking up for Anna, she has a promising part time job prospect, and she knows the Good Samaritan Ministries is here for her as a safety net when life throws her curveballs!
Every year Good Samaritan provides a site for Free Tax Help Clinic through Rural Dynamics. This clinic takes place every tax season, stay tuned for more information about tax season 2018!
The thrift store was a successful location for many, including one such individual “Jennifer”. Late January Jennifer came to the office asking if she would qualify for free tax help. It was apparent she was very nervous and upset about her taxes. As we assessed her income and found she was eligible for free tax help she began to share her personal story. Jennifer was a single mom who had endured many struggles, including a poor work history- She now has a steady job but is living on a low income. The one struggle that weighed heaviest on her understandably was being behind not one year, but three on her taxes.
We let her know the days and times Free Tax Help office were open at Good Sam Thrift Store and invited her back. Almost the whole tax season had passed, and We didn’t see Jennifer- which is not unusual. But just the other day Jennifer came into the office eager to share some news. With great excitement she exclaimed that her past three years of taxes are complete! She related how nervous she was to sit with someone to talk about her taxes and face being so far behind. With tears in her eyes she talked of how kind “the man” was and how he took special care to not make her feel ashamed. “He told me it was fear that I could not get them done- I had become so afraid I just kept putting it off and didn’t know where to go, he made me feel better about myself, and let me know we would work on them together”. She laughed and said….Do you know I again waited until the very last minute I was so afraid!
Thank you Rural Dynamics for working with so many in need of tax help. Sometimes we make change one person at a time, you have helped Jennifer in more way then you will ever imagine.
Pictured above: Our Assistance Coordinator, Corbin, prepares a small food box for a family from our food pantry.
Did you know Good Samaritan Assistance Office has a small food pantry- it comes in handy on lots of occasions for the clientele who visit our office.
This young lady had come in for help to avoid an eviction. After hearing how she had lost her job a few months ago, and was struggling to find a new one in the midst of caring for her two children by herself, since her husband also left her, we were able to write a voucher for her rent that month. Before she left, I asked if she needed anything else- coats? diapers? maybe a food box?
At the mention of a food box her eyes welled up with tears. She explained she was so worried about making ends meet and feeding her children was her biggest priority. She applied for SNAP but was currently in the waiting period for the benefits to start. How to feed her family was weighing on her mind, and she didn't know we had food- it was a godsend!
I collected the items for her, and also some information about Helena Food Share. Before she left she gave me a hug. "Thank you, you've helped me so much today!"
Many times, our office will be the first place people come when they are in crisis,and like the story shared above, it often comes up in the visit that they are in need of food as well.The food box is only meant to last a few days and we provide referrals to other food sources such as Helena Food Share or the Office of Public Assistance for SNAP benefits when we distribute the boxes. Often we aren't the only place a client visits on their road to self sufficiency. A small box of food items helps fortify them and give them the strength to go on.
Good Samaritan Ministries is not just a thrift store and social service office, but also serves as a vocational training facility. Our store employs approximately 30 full time employees, including employees with developmental disabilities, those coming out of the pre-release or state prison, and those with poor job histories needing a second chance.
Our Mission is based on Catholic social teaching which believes one should uphold the dignity and rights of the worker, a crucial part of which is access to healthcare. We are lucky to provide a great benefit package through the Diocese of Helena, Reta Trust.
All full time employees have full health care coverage with vision and dental. Many of our employees have never had the opportunity to have such benefits. Our insurance is structured to ensure each person get the best possible opportunities to improve their individual health care.
With our insurance comes a Wellness incentive program. The program gives rewards for healthier habits. Every year employees have the option of getting a health screening and follow-up health coaching calls, with advice on eating, exercise, and healthy patterns. Through this program we have seen dramatic changes with wellness and lifestyle changes. Let me share just one example:
Thursday I was driving back from training and called the office to check in on a project with an employee. When he picked up the phone, I quickly asked how the project was going?
"Oh, it's fine but guess what? I got my health screen back today and my cholesterol has dropped 40 points! It was very high before”
I congratulated her and she informed me she hadn’t known it was high before the screening. I then asked what she did to make the change.
“I ate healthy fats like avocado and nuts like my health coach advised"
Just one story of changing for the better. We are so glad to support our employees on their journey to better health!
Often in the lives of those living paycheck to paycheck, money is tight, so paying for living expenses is a balancing act.
One catastrophe or change in luck can tip the balance.
Take 'Jim', a senior citizen who cleans hotels part time to cover the living expenses his Social Security check cannot. Jim's luck turned for the worse when he broke his leg. His accident meant missing weeks of work, which meant missing crucial paychecks necessary to pay rent, prescriptions and other needs.
Instead of having to choose between homelessness and getting his medication, Jim found Good Samaritan Ministries.
Good Samaritan was able to pay Jim's Eviction Notice meaning he could stay in his home and still afford his vital prescriptions while he got better from his accident.
How quickly tragedy can strike, but that is why Good Samaritan Ministries exists. Stories like Jim's are not unusual, we see them happen everyday and we are thankful for the support of the community so we can help Jim and all in need like him.
Thank you Helena!
It was a Saturday morning at Good Samaritan, an unusually busy one, because this particular Saturday also coincided with the first day of our half-price sale. I was walking around the sales floor assisting customers and staff alike. As I hurried down our shoe aisle, I noticed a person emerge from our placer pantry with a few groceries bags. He smiled at me and I asked if he found everything he needed. His response:
“The Placer Pantry is great, there are times I am so broke I can't afford my daily necessities, but I know I can get help here!"
The Placer pantry lets families and individuals ‘shop’ for toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and soap, all at no cost to them. It can be hard to imagine struggling to be able to afford such small necessities, but this is a reality for many of your neighbors every day.
In 2016 the Placer Pantry served 807 households in need by providing them with basic personal hygiene items.
Basic needs, given with the dignity of the client in mind- that is our mission at Good Samaritan. Thank you to all our supporters and especially our volunteers who run the pantry.
To learn more about the placer pantry, click here.
The following story is a transcript of a talk by one of our employees, Sonny. Sonny gave this testimonial at our annual St. Francis Dinner on March 30th 2017.
My name is Sonny Pippin I go to the Cathedral of St. Helena and St. Marys. I have been working at Good Samaritan for 2 years, I started in April 2015. I work part time in clothing department, hang clothing in the back and keep the clothing stocked on the shelves.
Also I sometimes I will run the bailer or whatever else needs to get done.
The thing I like best about this place is it makes me feel like I am making a difference in the community and it makes me feel like I am worth something.
Working here makes me feel like I am being a help to the homeless and the other people Good Samaritan helps. I like giving back in this way because I was once homeless and I kinda relate in that way.
I like the people and the atmosphere. They make me feel like I am part of a family and team.
Thank you Good Samaritan for taking a chance and believing in my when nobody else did. Thank you for listening to my story.
For more information about the employment opportunity program, click here
For more information about our St. Francis Dinner, click here.
As I started my car last Thursday I had no idea that I was headed for the blessing of a 'Mission Moment'. I really should have had some inkling because I was headed for "Business After Hours" at the Good Samaritan Ministries. After a tour of the store two of us were inadvertently standing in front of the cash register as we shared times in our lives when we had witnessed someone being especially kind to someone else and the warm, inspiring feeling it created.
As we talked, a woman came along pushing a shopping cart. She stopped and said, “I LOVE Good Samaritan!! I raised my four children on my own. And I was on disability. Good Samaritan was with me every step of the way. I couldn’t have done it without them! I just love Good Samaritan! And now, look at these shoes. They’re brand new! Thank you!” Off she went leaving us smiling with misty eyes. Good Samaritan is a gift to her and she was a gift to us. So much good happens at Good Samaritan!
It was a special moment, fun to share! Thanks for all of the good you do,
(Sandi Ashley is a member of our all volunteer board. Thank you Sandi for sharing your story! We are so thankful for all our board members do!)
"I use to think at work that I couldn’t wait to go home…then I remembered that I was living in a shelter. Now, when I think I can’t wait to get home I remember we have our own place. I can relax at my table, drink coffee, I can follow my own schedule, and best of all, I finally have a home."
(Testimony of family who had been homeless for over 2 years. GSM helped them obtain a home this month.)
(The donation box at the registers reads)
It goes on to explain that every donation of change or rounding up of a purchase goes directly into our assistance fund that helps those in crisis*
A mother came up to the cash register to purchase some clothing for her young daughter who was with her. The parent, taking the clothing one by one, double checked the prices and watched the total being extra careful, it seemed, not to go over the amount she had. It was clear they were on a budget.
The total was under $20, which seemed to relieve the mom. As I chatted with the mom and bagged the clothing, the young girl’s attention was on our sign by the donation box.
“You can be a Hero”
Turning to her mother she exclaimed, “Mom, I want to be a Hero!”
The mother smiled and handed her the change from the purchase. The mother explained to me that Good Samaritan makes shopping possible for her and her daughter and she made sure she donated every time she was here as much or as little as she had. Our charity once helped her in her time of need and she was so grateful. She wanted to help another family as she was helped by Good Samaritan.
The daughter dropped all the change in the donation box and with a proud voice proclaimed:
"I'm a Hero today!”
She looked at the customer next in line and asked: “You can be a Hero too?”
The customer read the sign and he donated, stating he was unaware of all the help we provide the people of Helena.
That young girl had started a chain reaction, as customer after customer in line kept donating!
The next day the same young lady bounded through the door, in her fist a five dollar bill. She made a beeline straight for the same donation box and dropped her five dollar bill in the box.
She beamed “I'm a Hero again today!”
The customer checking out who witnessed this act smiled as the girl said to her: “You can be a Hero too!”
And again she started a chain of continuous donations!
It was so awesome to see that girl again - the pure joy she received from giving all she had was contagious
Generosity is infectious, one good deed begets another, and seeing that in action is truly one of the biggest blessings of being in this line of work.
A special thank you to that young hero, and to all those unseen heroes of Good Samaritan Ministries!
GSM Mission Moments
Success stories from our Mission. You can be a help us build our roots by supporting Good Samaritan and those in need in Helena .