When Sheila Enright bought her childhood home from her parents in the early 1980s, she didn’t doubt that she could afford a home in the increasingly affluent Edgewater neighborhood. With a stable career as a corporate consultant, she could care for her aging parents and raise her son under one roof.

Thirty years later, Sheila’s life has changed drastically. A victim of the economic crisis, Sheila, now 58, lost her full-time career in 2007. Optimistic that the job market would turn around, Sheila worked on a contract basis sporadically until 2010, when the work dried up completely. Sheila now struggles with mounting mortgage payments and property taxes with no income–just to keep a roof over her family.

Sheila no longer has the resources to keep up with necessary home repairs and utilities, but she believes that her decision to buy her home has been her “saving grace.” 

“If I hadn’t, I would be homeless,” Sheila said.

Sheila is actively looking for work, applying to openings and networking with contacts, but has not found a job yet.

“I kept hoping the economy would recover,” Sheila said. Nearly two years after losing her part-time work, Sheila is still waiting. “I will lose my house.”

To hold on to her home and help stretch her already burdened budget, Sheila now relies on the nearby Care for Real Food Pantry, a member agency of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, for groceries.

“I used to donate to the pantry,” Sheila said. When Sheila realized she needed to turn to the pantry for food, she was embarrassed. “It was terrifying,” Sheila said. “Why would I, who has always been a giver, ever need assistance?”

Despite the discomfort of asking for help, Care for Real has helped Sheila alleviate one of her worries as she struggles to keep her home for the sake of her son, now in his final semester of college.

“I need to maintain a house for my child,” Sheila said. “It is my job to keep a roof over his head.”

Congress is just days away from announcing a plan to cut the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion, and there’s a very real danger that they will cut vital aid programs that Sheila and millions of Americans rely on to make ends meet. Tomorrow, organizations across the nation are joining in a massive effort to send a clear message: Do not cut the deficit by cutting hungry people out of the picture. Members of Congress will finalize their deficit plan in days, so there is absolutely no time to waste.

Contact your legislators now–even a quick message makes a huge difference: Call 1-877-698-8228 to contact Senators Durbin and Kirk, as well as your Representative, and tell them not to slash funding for anti-hunger programs, or visit the Food Depository’s Advocacy Center to send an Action Alert, chicagosfoodbank.org/advocate.