Moneycare the missing piece of the puzzle
15 October 2018
Jack Drendel will never forget 30 March 2017, the day when floodwaters inundated his Brisbane home. With water inching higher and higher, Jack and his partner were forced onto their roof for five hours until they were rescued.
“I had to wake the neighbours and got them up onto our roof as well because the water was coming up so fast. The neighbours across the road were screaming because it was up over the gutters of their house,” he remembers.
Jack and his partner lost everything in the flood, the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie that had wreaked havoc down the Queensland coast. Their home, cars, and small business were all destroyed. Not all of it was insured, and some items that were insured weren’t covered.
“We were pretty much in dire straits,” Jack says. “I had lots of business debt as well as personal debt, a car loan and machinery repayments to make, credit cards … We just had no idea what we were going to do because we couldn’t service the loans, we couldn’t survive, we couldn’t do anything.”
Jack had been financially secure his whole life, having been manager and director of several businesses. Now, he had nothing and admitted he was in a state of disbelief.
After receiving some initial disaster assistance, Jack says his case got “lost in the system” and more than six months went by without any support. He and his partner were staying with friends and family, but that was wearing thin and Jack’s outlook became more and more bleak.
“It crippled me. I couldn’t get out of the house for weeks. I couldn’t do anything. I was always tired. My partner and I were having arguments over crazy little things. It just about broke me,” he says.
“We couldn’t eat properly. We had cut down to two meals a day. We couldn’t buy food or anything at that stage.”
By September this year, Jack admits he didn’t have much hope and was having suicidal thoughts.
It was then that The Salvation Army came into Jack’s life. His DOCCS caseworker introduced him to The Salvation Army Moneycare financial counsellor, Lisa Simpson, who took control of Jack’s financial situation.
“If I hadn’t met Lisa and the other lady at that time … I was that close I think. Another week or two and that would have been it.”
Lisa immediately supplied Jack and his partner with a supermarket voucher and helped Jack to get his entire financial situation down on paper so that they could make a plan to move forward.
“I was a little bit scared actually when it was all put on paper,” Jacks says. “She assured me that we’d just do one thing at a time and that’s basically what we did. We just started to have a little win here, or there, and we worked our way right through.”
Lisa also accompanied Jack to the local government housing office where he had been trying to secure a home. “It made a big difference to have someone there that could speak the same sort of language that they’re used to; it made a big difference,” he says.
Lisa then negotiated with his telecommunications company (who he had been trying to speak to without success) and his bank to get his hardship provision extended.
“I had no idea that the Salvos could actually do [all of this] to help the situation,” he says. “To give us the hope and the feeling that there was someone there for us was enormous. I wasn’t aware of the time that it takes to get back on your feet. It is overwhelming. It’s taken so long to get going again.”
And Moneycare has been there every step of the way, working with Jack and his partner to sort through every debt, negotiate payment plans, access housing and much more.
Perhaps the thing that saved Jack’s life was the fact that Lisa recognised that he was struggling with his mental health, and she and his community service worker called Queensland Health on his behalf.
“Lisa had actually rang the guys from mental health in Queensland to check on me,” Jack says. “My partner kept on telling me that I should speak to someone or do something about it but I was like, ‘No, I’m ok’, but they saw things that I couldn’t see.
“I got a phone call first and then I got a visit by two nurses. I felt so much better once I started to talk. I was happy right from the start that they had actually taken the time to think of my welfare. I was very humbled by that. Lisa is not just the Moneycare person for us, she has become a really good friend.”
One of the things that really blew Jack and his partner away was the attention to detail and time that Moneycare put into their case. She made sure she called Jack to let him know how various negotiations were going, and get his feedback on how she planned to approach every obstacle.
“We just feel so humbled and blessed and it’s just like we were given a guardian angel.”
Jack now has hope. He is working with his doctor and psychologist and is ready to start applying for jobs again. He says he can’t put into words how grateful he is to Lisa and to The Salvation Army Moneycare financial assistance service in his time of need.
“To have someone there for you … it’s the most important piece of the puzzle,” he says.
By Lauren Martin
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