Like many in our community March 17th, 2020 will be a day that I will not forget anytime soon. On that date Governor Sisolak announced in a press conference the closure of every casino in the State of Nevada effective at midnight that night. I remember not only the stress as a Mayor worrying about the economic impact to the city as well as the loss of employment for many in our community, many of whom already live below the poverty line. I was also stressed as a casino employee, who all of a sudden would likely be out of a job. I did not sleep that night & for many of the nights that followed.
That day was rough, but the day after was worse. That was when I received a text message informing me that I had been laid off & would need to file for unemployment as well as make a plan to pay my employer for my health insurance in order to keep it.
I immediately filed for unemployment thinking that it would put me in the front of line so that there would not be too long of a lapse between my last paycheck & my first payment from unemployment. That was eight weeks ago & as of today I still have not received initial payment. Throughout the past eight weeks I have spent countless hours on the phone attempting to get through to no avail, I have also sent several emails with no response.
Even with all of this I still recognize that I have had it better through this ordeal than many in our community. I had a healthy savings account, which has since been drained. I have a great support system of family around me that has let me borrow money which has helped me stay up to date on my bills. Lastly, I have my biweekly mayoral paycheck of $250 which has also helped me pay my bills & purchase groceries.
With all this help I have still been forced to make some tough choices. A month ago I had to make the decision between making my car payment or paying my employer for my health insurance, I chose the car payment. I’ve also had to choose between groceries or bills, often times its been a compromise of half payments on the phone or car insurance & half groceries.
Throughout this pandemic I have urged our community members who are facing similar choices to utilize the JAS Foundation’s Food Bank as a resource instead of having to make those decisions. Until today I was too proud to listen to my own advice. I worried about how the Mayor getting food from the Food Bank would look. I also thought that because I had a little income coming in & had family members who were willing to help out that I didn’t qualify as a “person in need”. While, I admit that I have been blessed in many ways & there are so many in our community that are far worse off than myself. I also know that there are many who find themselves in similar situations as myself who have been too proud or who feel like there are many in our community who are worse off so they haven’t sought out help.
If it weren’t for the constant urging on behalf of Councilwoman Holm, I would not have sought out help. I was worried about taking from those who have a higher need, but that is not the case. The JAS Foundation has a tremendous group of donors who have donated generously to ensure that the Food Bank remains stocked & so that anyone in our community who needs help is able to get it. As of today the JAS is at a point where they have more food than they know what to do with & if they do not have more people utilize them much of that food will go to waste. Take it from me, there is no shame in food insecurity & please do not go to bed hungry tonight!
The JAS Foundations is open MON-TUES 11:30am-2pm & THURS-FRI 11:30am-2pm. The City is also delivering boxes to seniors as well as disabled & at risk folks in our community call (775)664–3081 to arrange a delivery. If you are vegetarian or vegan make sure you specify to get a meatless box!