Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
The announcement of Bill Withers’ death by his family on April 3 was a mere footnote in history, lost among the urgency of the current global health pandemic.
Paradoxically, Withers’ most popular and familiar recording has increasingly become part of the collective national consciousness, just as it has countless times before in time of personal crisis, disaster and suffering.
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
While streaming a playlist of Withers’ works, consisting of other memorable chart hits like "Ain’t No Sunshine," "Just the Two of Us" and "Lovely Day," it was the lyrics of "Lean on Me" that reverberated in my head.
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on
According to marketwatch.com, 50 to 74 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck: I am one of them, with mortgage, car, home and auto insurance, property tax, credit card and utility bills; grocery and pet expenses, and an indulgent Nespresso coffee addiction accounting for nearly all of my income.
The recommended household emergency savings balance is three to six months of expenses. Mine is the $5 minimum necessary to maintain the account.
With each passing day, the economic and unemployment implications of pre-emptive, mandatory and residual closures became aware to all of us very quickly, with job losses growing at a pace exceeding the Great Depression.
More than 1 million Texans have applied for unemployment relief since March 15, according to Texas Workforce Commission data, a number certain to increase when applicants are eventually able to reach someone at overwhelmed call centers.
What would happen if my position was furloughed or, worse, eliminated due to budget cuts, as has happened to millions of others? Mine is a single-income household. My trade skills are not sufficiently adaptable to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.
While each day brings more anxiety, fortunately, my employment is not yet affected, for which I am extremely grateful – and it puts me in a position to help.
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show
On April 9 powerful images appeared on local news outlets: thousands of cars queued at Trader’s Village – a line stretching for miles – waiting to receive items being distributed by the San Antonio Food Bank. A picture is worth a thousand words.
On April 10 I posted to Facebook, “Next week the first distribution of stimulus funds begins. If you are among those early recipients, I encourage you to consider a cash donation to your local food bank or animal welfare organization.”
You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I am no Shea Serrano; my Twitter followers total nine. My Facebook friends around the globe total 341, however. The post gained traction.
When stimulus funds were deposited into my account on April 13, my first action was to donate to the San Antonio Food Bank. As a reminder to my online friends, I shared a link to the food bank's donation platform.
Friends began to step up, sharing their own stories, as well as donation links to organizations, near and far, that they were supporting: food banks, animal welfare and arts organizations, diaper banks. They continue to share the idea of giving if you can.
If there is a load you have to bear
That you can't carry
I'm right up the road
And it isn’t only individuals coping with financial setbacks. Charities and organizations sustained by private giving face severe economic hurdles in the months, possibly years, to come.
As with my friends, I encourage each of you to give if you have the means. Our personal wants are far less important at present than the need we see locally and nationally.
Countless organizations need help. Here are a few that would benefit from immediate assistance:
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow