A Labor of Love
Katherine Montes works hard as a property manager at an apartment building in Hartford. Juggling the demands of solely caring for her four children while also tending to dozens of tenants, she takes pride in being the best mother and employee she can be.
But sometimes it isn’t easy.
Just when the future was looking bright and Montes and her husband were on the path to homeownership, things took a turn.
“My husband got sick, eventually to the point of being disabled,” she explained.
What followed was a difficult journey to make ends meet on a much lower household income.
“After he passed, my children received benefits, but in the last few years they turned 18,” she shared. “So, I thought, we can still do this. We can re-budget and we’ll just have to reign in a bit. But then when my third child turned 18, our income dropped again. It was at the point where because of inflation and my income not changing because it is a fixed income, it started to get really tight.”
Montes knew she needed a little help, but like 40% of all households in Greater Hartford, despite having a hard time ensuring that food would be on the table, her income disqualified her from federal nutrition assistance programs.
“I didn’t qualify for SNAP because of a dollar,” said Montes. “So, I knew I needed to try to find ways besides re-budgeting to save, so I could pay the light bill and put gas in the car to take my child to school; when your income shifts, it affects the way you feel. If you’re feeling like your household is coming apart, you’re going to hit depression; you can either find what works for you so you can keep walking or let it overwhelm you. There are resources.”
Having previously volunteered at Love Kitchen, she knew that the ministry could help with providing hot meals and staples like fresh vegetables, milk and other food that she normally would need to purchase each week.
“I did not want my family to be without because of pride. That’s a senseless reason to have anyone go hungry,” she explained. “I wasn’t going to lie to get SNAP, because that’s not me. There was a little bit of embarrassment but I also was aware that the service is there just for what I’m going through and I’d be a fool not to utilize a service that can actually help me. Everyone has their moments. You just...