“I Just Want to Keep My Lights Turned On”: GBM Helps With Patrons’ Basic Needs

Mandy Shunnarah, GBM Communications Specialist

The patron whose story follows asked to remain anonymous, so for purposes of the story, his name has been changed to Phillip.

Phillip is not an old man by any sense of the word, but walked through GBM’s waiting room with a pronounced limp. It’s just one of his many health problems that prevent him from working. 

“I’m here because they turned my lights off,” Phillip said. “I’m on disability, so I don’t work. I miss working.”

Before Phillip’s health problems set in, he lived a very different life. “I worked in computer science for a long time. I had my first stroke in junior college, then another, then another. I learned I was diabetic then, too,” Phillip said, indicating his swollen feet. “That’s what’s wrong with them. My feet hurt like hell even though I take 170 units of insulin every day.”

With each stroke Phillip suffered, his brain function was negatively affected, including his speech. He’s now forced to talk slowly and take more time to gather his thoughts. “My memory started going and I haven’t been able to do anything since. I just can’t remember anything,” he said. 

Even with his physical limitations, Phillip still hopes to be able to take care of himself in the future. “I’ve been trying to find a job doing something, but I’m diabetic and my feet hurt all the time, so it’s hard,” Phillip said. “I just want to keep my lights turned on.”

At the food stamps office, they gave him a list of other aid organizations who would be able to help him, and that’s what brought Phillip to GBM. 

“It’ll be next month before I get another disability check, so I won’t have any money coming in until then. I’m behind on paying the light bill and GBM helps me. I’m thankful they’re here.”

If you’d like to make a donation to GBM’s food pantry and utilities assistance program to help people like Phillip, click here to make a monetary donation online, or you can drop food off at the GBM’s location, 2304 12th Avenue North Birmingham, AL 35234, Monday through Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm. All donations are tax deductible.