5555 SW 196th Ave.
Aloha, Oregon 97078
For several years I worked as a volunteer for the local food bank. It supplied those in need with weekly baskets of food and other necessities of life. It was very special to help, and I have numerous memories of that time. I met many people who wanted nothing more than to help others and support our small-town community.
I especially liked the female volunteers who cheerfully greeted those in need and helped with the food baskets. There was always a feeling of community with them, and many became friends.
Over the seven years I helped there, I realized that a change was taking place; many of the women who volunteered morphed into those who needed the help and needed the food baskets.
To place the reason was not easy, and it was, in a sense embarrassing for those who helped to become those who are in need. In most cases, a spouse had died, and with that event, income was severely reduced, and a lifestyle was lowered. One woman, in particular, named Louise, was a retired teacher, her husband was also a retired teacher, and with their pensions and social security, life was fine. But remove half of the income, and things changed.
Louise and her husband have raised children and helped their church and community, and things changed when he died.
I remember the day she came for food; she was in tears and needed friends. Of course, everyone helped, but the humiliation of that event shook her as well as the rest of us. How could this have happened? They had been retired for about 18 years. In the beginning, their retirement was more than enough, but with inflation, tax increases, and covering for medical expenses leftover from a lowering of medical reimbursements, it all took a toll.
Louise is not the only one, and there are millions of women just like her who are in need and living in the shadows. Women, in general, make less money, translating to less money to put aside for retirement resulting in a more significant portion of the poverty population. And, women live longer than men, which statistically translates to less available retirement income. Consider what retirement should be, live well, and with comfort; how many Louises’ have seen their dream turn black?
According to a Boston College blog (link below), more than half of the women employed full-time or part-time in the private sector are not saving in a retirement plan at any given time. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but many don’t have a 401(k) at their jobs or aren’t eligible to save, often because they are self-employed or work part-time.
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