A veteran new to the Austin-area, Wende moved to Central Texas for work. When the government shut down in December, she was one of hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees who were forced to go without a paycheck.
Prior to moving to Austin, Wende served in the U.S. military for five years, with deployments in Desert Storm. After her service, she worked in the Midwest and went back to school, all while taking care of her son as a single mother. Her son is now grown and married. “He’s more worried about me and asking me, ‘Mom, I’ll send you money for food or whatever you need for assistance.’”
The government shutdown was Wende’s first time seeking assistance of any kind. “I’ve never—never reached out to [any assistance programs] until the government shutdown.”
“It’s time consuming, it’s overwhelming, and it’s tear jerking just to — to be in this situation and have to reach out and [say], ‘Hey, this is what’s going on, and this is what’s happening to me.’”
Since Wende has health insurance through work, she is not eligible for the free clinics, but she also does not have a method of payment for health expenses since being furloughed.
She remains optimistic, however, and says that she is grateful to be able to receive food from the pantry to help her get through the crisis.