Desperate Sharon finds hope on the Salvos’ breakfast menu
Until a few years ago, Sharon’s family was doing fine. Regular hard-working Aussies, Sharon was a barista and her husband, Mike, a builder. Their two teenage boys, Flynn and Jordan, loved basketball and video games.
Although they were not wealthy, the family was getting by. Most importantly, they were happy. But along with the cost-of-living crisis that was hitting everyone, Sharon and Mike were hit by a personal crisis of their own. Mike, who had always had heart issues, became seriously ill, to the point where he could no longer work.
With the family’s finances already in decline, the final straw came when Mike suffered a stroke that nearly killed him. In addition to four weeks in an intensive care unit (ICU), Mike was put on a ventilator for another three weeks. By the time he came home, he had only 23 per cent heart function.
The emotional and financial strain on the family reached breaking point as Sharon had to give up work after the accident to become a full-time carer for Mike. As a result, the family that was not long ago happy and getting by found themselves drowning in bills and costs due to the combined loss of two salaries.
Following Mike’s hospitalisation, Sharon started making the daily 150km round trip to visit Mike while he fought for his life in ICU.
“I’d used everything we had to keep us afloat,” she says. “We had no money in reserve. I couldn’t pay for fuel to visit Mike in hospital, and pay the rent too. I fell behind on my rent. I’d come home from the hospital and just break down in tears. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so low, and so alone.”
One day, just as she hit rock bottom, Sharon remembered something that would turn the family’s lives around – a breakfast service offered every morning by a nearby Salvos cafe. She called in for the free breakfast, a coffee and a chat. What she received in return brought her to tears.
“They [the Salvos] opened their arms and their hearts, saying, ‘Come with me. We will help you.’ I only wish I’d gone sooner,” says Sharon, “so I didn’t have to struggle for so long.” Sharon and her family were no longer alone.
A way towards hope
With the support of the Salvos, the family received emergency financial assistance to get back on top of their rent, cover outstanding bills and put food on the table. And that was just the beginning.
Apart from immediate assistance, Sharon was able to gain long-term financial security with the steady, guiding hand and ongoing support of a caring Salvos caseworker, as well as financial coaching and budgeting advice.
Sharon now refers to the Salvos as her friends, who she knows will walk alongside her and her family for as long as they need in their journey towards healing and a happy and full life.