With the next season of SNAP Energy Assistance just around the corner, there are many in the community who are grateful for a program that keeps their homes and their loved ones warm during the cold Spokane winters.

When Amy stopped by the SNAP booth during the Hillyard Festival last month, she filled out a simple feedback form with the following words:

“Thanks for your help when I needed it.”

It turned out Amy and her family needed all the support they could find several years ago. She spent nearly five months in the hospital coping with a rare blood disorder known as ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) that causes excessive bruising and bleeding due to unusually low platelets, the cells that helps blood clot.

Previously the owner of two small businesses, Amy saw both go by the wayside as she worked to get better.

Meanwhile, her husband lost his job and within months, the family was facing an unprecedented financial crisis.

“It was a very, very difficult time,” Amy said. “We went from two, full-time incomes to nothing and the medical bills were just stacking up.”

While the scenario was bleak, community resources stepped up to help. A worker with the Washington State University Food Sense program informed them of SNAP’s Energy Assistance program and, soon, a call was made. SNAP provided critical support one winter and, the next, Project Share funds kept their power from being shut off.

“It was nice knowing my family would stay warm,” Amy says. “If not for that help, we would have lost our power. You hear some people who criticize these kinds of programs but unless you’ve been through these kinds of challenges, you don’t realize how much difference it makes.”

Meanwhile, the family did their best to cut costs. They planted a garden in their backyard and became stringent about conserving water and energy.

“I was grateful for all the help we received but I also have a lot of pride,” Amy says. “I didn’t want to stay on the assistance forever.”

Amy emerged from her health scare to give birth to a healthy baby boy who, this summer, celebrated his 13th birthday.

“We call him ‘our miracle,’” Amy says.

While she still deals with the effects of ITP – she’s had over 30 blood transfusions and several surgeries – Amy is back at work now in a good-paying job at a local university. Her husband found gainful employment with a manufacturing company.

With life returning to some form of normal, Amy also makes it a point to donate to charitable causes, including Project Share, helping those who are in the position she was many years ago.

“I am grateful for the help I received, now I try to give back,” Amy says.