America's middle class is facing tough times.
More than half of American families are earning less than $60,000 dollars a year. Nearly three-quarters of middle-class families say their income is falling behind the cost of living. It's all resulting in a widening pool of people who may be a job loss or a life tragedy away from being deeply in need.
That’s the backdrop for Giving Grace which was founded by Christy Betz. She had volunteered at a homeless ministry and met people with straightforward, solvable needs.
“I would post on Facebook saying, ‘Andrew needs a pair of boots this week so he can start a new job in a warehouse.’ And then people would either go purchase them or donate the money. And then it just kind of spiraled from there,” Betz said.
Today, Giving Grace is a Facebook group with dozens of requests a week and thousands of members who collectively step up.
“We have a lot of teachers. Same thing with nurses— elderly on a fixed income. We have people who have worked in the school system their entire lives that are reaching out because their retirement pension is just not enough to survive,” Betz said.
Betz and her team deal with power companies and landlords, court cases and public transportation cards. Her store is her newest partnership— a food pantry called The Grocery Spot in a well-known Atlanta food desert.
Tracey Taylor makes a stop whenever the food pantry is open.
“You know, I have grandkids. They stay with me, and they like to eat,” Taylor said.
Inside, Porsha Braxton is one of many volunteers who not long ago needed help.
“I was homeless before, so I know how it feels. You don’t have to be homeless to need help with your food and stuff like that. Times are hard. Groceries are high," she said.
Betz shows up weekly at the store. In person, and online, she sees and conveys the many dimensions of the struggle families face today.
“You really don’t have a whole lot of time to step back and reflect because you’ve got stuff coming at you left and right, day in, day out,” Betz said. “It’s almost like you can’t stop because if you stop, then all these people are going to fall that you’ve helped, you know, improve their life.”