Unemployment, Bankruptcy and a call for help

The New York Times describes, in bitter detail, the plight of a Medical Billings Analyst who worked at St. Vincents for more than 20 years until she was recently laid off when St. Vincents filed for Bankruptcy.  The analyst, a young women who hasn’t had much success with men in her life, has to try and take care of two children on unemployment compensation of $350 or so…a week.  So, she’s cutting back on luxuries….like toothpaste.

If she had a large amount of debt, I could help her.  If she had any debt, I could help her.  I could file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in New York for her and I could make sure she wouldn’t have to pay any types of credit card bills anymore.  If she had past due medical bills I could easily get rid of those also.  But that’s it.  That’s the most infuriating part.  I could help her get rid of nasty credit collectors calling her, or idiotic law firms that dont follow protocol, freezing her bank accounts without notice.  But I can’t really get her paid, or on her feet.  I can’t really help her afford luxuries like toothpaste.

And before you accuse me of being a bleeding heart, understand that I am 100% for personal responsibility.  But more and more I’m seeing clients who are working and working and they can’t possibly make ends meet.  I have a client who works a night shift….and a day shift, and he can’t afford his rent and he has no family to move in with.  Another, who bought a house, was told not to make payments to get a loan mod, and now faces foreclosure.  There must be a way to help these people.

Which brings me to my next point, which is that you can’t just throw money at the problem.  I donate a specific percentage of my profits to various organizations in an attempt to give back.  In 2012, we will donate 12% of all profits to various local organizations.  Everything from education for children in Kenya, to the Wounded Warriors Project (which is an amazing charity, by the way.)  But it’s not enough to actually transform someones life.  Thus far, my firm has partnered with The Street Academy of Financial Literacy and Pencil.org to bring Financial Literacy lessons to kids across Brooklyn.  But again, I can and should do more.  Which is why I’d like your ideas this holiday season.  As we embark and yet another few weeks/months where we say thanks for all we have (even if our families are insane…yes, yours too), we should also reflect on meaningful ways of giving back.  If you’ve any ideas/thoughts/etc., on how my law firm can really make an impact in Brooklyn or Manhattan, feel free to email us.  It’s not just donations, though.  I’m looking for real, concrete ideas to help people like the woman who lost her job when St. Vincents closed down. Or anyone you know who is trying to make ends meet.  If we can implement them, we will…and immediately.

I look forward to hearing from you.