Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can You Help Neighbors in Need?

I was in the village this morning and stopped at town hall to say hello to Nancy and Bob, her assistant, in the Assessor’s office. They told me their phone has been ringing off the hook after recent reevaluations of homes on Lieutenant Island. One owner of a house, assessed at $300,000, paid a $4000 local tax last year. In 2010, this family will owe $4000 + $1836 = $5836. That’s a tremendous increase. Lieutenant Island may be very desirable in summer, but not everyone can afford to own property there. And, most of the houses are second homes ….

One of the peculiarities of this town is the wide range of income. Some retired folks do not have to worry in the least about the economy. Other people have no work and, therefore, no income, or find themselves getting by with the occasional part-time job. Sometimes collecting salary becomes a problem. A friend built an addition at the home of an Outer Cape shop-owner, who went bankrupt. There was no money to collect, so our friend decided to accept payment in artwork. The daughter of another friend sent around an email asking for leads on cars: her mother’s vehicle will not make it through the winter and there’s no money for even second-hand. We don't see many foreclosures here, but from the increase in the number of people exiting Mass Appeal, it's obvious folks are hurting.

Yesterday I wrote about contributing to local non-profits. I would be remiss if I did not mention the possibility of giving food or money for less fortunate community members. The Wellfleet Food Pantry served 2,366 people over the past year, a figure that is up 110%. (24,000 pounds of food was picked up at the Boston Food Bank; $120,000 worth of food was handed out.) The Pantry, located at Grace Chapel in South Wellfleet and part of the Lower Cape Outreach Council, provided 402 people with turkeys, hams or whole chickens at three holiday giveaways last month. Organizers leave cardboard boxes at certain locations throughout town to facilitate drop-off. Wellfleet Public Library is one of the main collection centers. In fact, our library is organizing a Food for Thought Food Drive from November 23 to December 31. Not only canned goods, pasta, and cereals are requested but toilet paper, soap, and tooth paste, whatever can be spared. Peanut butter, dried beans, and chili are just three of a dozen requested protein foods. The poster to the left reads, “Let’s see if we can collect as many items and dollars as the number of books checked out during this time period last year: 3761 books!” If you live far away and would like to offer monetary support instead, call (508) 349 3685. The Methodist Church also runs a food pantry. And, then Wellfleet has the Mustard Seed Kitchen, my mother's favorite local charity,(508-349-2049).

Have you noticed evidence of the recession where you live? What is your town doing to assist citizens in need?