“It’s gotten harder and harder for the middle class to make it.” – Tamar

Soup Kitchen Stories: 2016


Voice of a Guest: Tamar

Fifty-nine year old Chelsea resident Tamar has lived in New York City her whole life, and, she says, “It’s never been this hard. Things are very expensive.” For Tamar, coming to the soup kitchen for the past year has helped her to afford the ever increasing cost of living.

Tamar and her sixty five year old husband raised their family on her salary as a supervising nurse in home healthcare, and his salary as a middle school robotics and wood shop teacher. But, she says, “It’s gotten harder and harder for the middle class to make it.”

Tamar remembers their simple but comfortable life when they were both busy parents and professionals, steadily preparing for their retirement. When the economy crashed in ’08 however, she says “All our savings went.”

Then, at the same time that they were coping with this huge financial setback, and resolving to recoup as much as they could with hard work, Tamar began to experience leg pain and weakness that slowly got worse. It wasn’t until her symptoms led to an emergency hospital visit that she was finally diagnosed with a chronic disease. As she began treatment, she continued to work until early last year, when the physical demands of her job were just too much for her to continue.

“Now, I’m on Medicaid but I’m in that in-between age,” she explains. “I’m not quite eligible for social security.”

Living frugally on her husband’s social security benefits since he retired last year, and on what little they were able to save since the recession, the couple has managed to stay in their home. But, she says, describing the unpredictable symptoms of her illness, “You’re only just one medical emergency away from losing everything. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

For Tamar, a healthy and nutritious meal with her Chelsea neighbors at the soup kitchen helps to stretch the family budget just enough so she and her husband can stay in New York, the only city she has even known, her home. “I had known about the soup kitchen for years,” Tamar remarks. “And I’m just so thankful it was still here when I needed it.”