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“So what do I do now?” begged the email reply from a man we’ll call Steve Jones. “When working hard is no longer working, what do you have left?”
That plea sums up the plight of millions of Americans and others worldwide during an economic crisis that has ripped all hope right out of their future.
People who have worked hard all of their lives now find that their effort seems futile. Their jobs have vanished or their businesses have cratered. Their retirement accounts are mere shells. They face foreclosure on their homes and monthly bills they cannot cover, even after cutting expenditures to the bare minimum. If they live in the United States and become seriously ill, the staggering cost of treatment leave them with mountains of additional debt, or they simply go without medical care.
“Behind every home foreclosure is a person who’s suffering,” Jones says. “I know what it’s like to worry about that.”
Jones’ friend of 15 years, author and reality TV show developer Jerry Biederman, read the unexpected response to a casual question and wanted very much to help in some small way.
“My friend put words and an identity to this economic crisis,” says Biederman, author of popular books like Earth Angels and Secrets of a Small Town. “Statistics don’t do justice to the pain, fear, and desperation people are feeling.”
On top of that, he adds, “People are ashamed of their unemployment, of their failure as defined by their finances. They don’t want their families, friends, or neighbors to know. Yet people have got to open up about this. It’s empowering to get rid of secrets.”
In the spirit of greater candor, Biederman decided to pass Jones’ e-mail along to his friends, who sent it to their lists. Soon messages of encouragement and caring were inundating him from all across the globe.
That’s when Biederman hit on the idea of setting up a website called www.emailhope.com, where visitors may post expressions of support and share their own personal stories. It is a heart-felt effort to foster a renewed sense of community and connectedness during a time of widespread hardship, when dread of impending disaster leaves people feeling isolated, powerless, and hopeless.
It is not a typical feel-good site that ignores or glosses over unpleasant topics. The messages are straight from the gut and reveal tough-to-read details of suffering and challenges.Through it all, however, runs a sense of humor and the resiliency of the human spirit. Even in their darkest hours, people want to reach out to others they don’t even know personally to show that they care, to affirm that there is light beyond the storm, to keep believing that there is still hope.
Jones says the site is helping him and many others who stop by to visit and share their thoughts and feelings. Learning about others troubles also helps Jones to put his own situation into perspective.
“All these letters coming in are amazing reading,” he says. “It may not help your finances, but it helps your mind.”(For a free ebook on hope and healing, visit www.greenstoneofhealing.com and sign up for the newsletter.)
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