Staff from Cornerstones and Western Fairfax Christian Ministries attended the panel, "Survival Guide for Businesses Impacted by the Federal Government Shutdown” presented by the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Kerrie B. Wilson, Cornerstones, said: “We have made our normal record-keeping/applications easier; people can show a federal ID or contractor’s ID or tell us it’s shutdown-related to make it easier for people to come in and ask for help – without worrying that they are having to apply for government assistance or somehow impact their job or clearances. While that would not be the case, for people who have never relied on government help, it might be a question."
CORNERSTONES, along with Fairfax County and other safety net organizations, is ready to help all those impacted by the federal government shutdown. Even for those government employees who now have been promised back pay, this uncertainty has caused stress and many families don’t have a financial backup plan.
“For contractors or employees of businesses who aren’t guaranteed lost wages or whose hours have been cut indefinitely, we empathize with the hardship this has created for your families or for your businesses,” she said.
If you are concerned about what to do or know of someone who may need help, general advice is the same for anyone faced by an unexpected life event or financial crisis – be proactive.
Contact your creditors before there is a problem, explain your situation and see what options they can provide for deferring payments or restructuring debt to protect your credit and assets.
For people in northwestern Fairfax County, reach out to Cornerstones (571-323-9555) or Fairfax County (703-222-0880)– they’ll guide you through options and provide resources and referrals that can help now.
Concerned about the shutdown and need help managing your bills? Get ahead of the problem. Contact your mortgage company or landlord, credit card companies, and utility service provider to explain your situation and ask for information on payment deferral or assistance to protect your credit.
Once you are feeling secure again, plan for a future emergency by considering the financial resources you’ll need for the future.
Teasa Northern, Interim Executive Director at Western Fairfax Christian Ministries, says: “We at WFCM are concerned for those impacted by the government shutdown. As federal employees and government contractors in our community face questions about how to pay bills and meet basic needs, we want them to know we are here to help.”
Mary Ellen D’Andrea, Director of Development, said: “WFCM offers those who need our services the opportunity to receive help in a compassionate, respectful and private way, by appointment. What makes us different from other food pantries is that we are faith-based and run by a small team of seven with over 110 regular volunteers working in the pantry and reception area. We couldn’t do it without these dedicated volunteers who with care and concern, work along staff, offering not only food, but often teaching the financial classes, with care and concern. We realize that food insecurity and having a hard time paying bills is stressful. At WFCM we provide a little bit of peace, hope and security for those who need our help”
Grace Foust, Director of Client Services:“We offer a wide variety of services that go beyond our food pantry and basic financial aid. We also offer financial classes, resume classes, nutrition classes, the Senior Luncheon Program, the Pathways to Success Program, clothing vouchers, and laundry services. Part of our goal is to uplift those struggling in our community, not just to get by, but to succeed and to have fellowship with others in the community as well.”
Pamela Montesinos, Director Food Pantry Services: “The WFCM food pantry model is unique in the area because we allow those who come to the pantry the opportunity to shop and choose what they need and not receive pre-bagged items.”
Local Utilities Providers:
Dominion Electric 866-366-4357
Washington Gas 844-927-4427
Fairfax Water 8 a.m-6 p.m. 703-698-5800; 24/7 after-hours 703-698-5613
WFCM MISSION: To provide food and financial support to those at risk of hunger and homelessness in western Fairfax County – the following zip codes: 20120, 20121, 20122 - Centreville; 20124 - Clifton; 20151 - Chantilly; 22033 - Fairfax; 22039 - Fairfax Station