People of Earnin: Michelle Melville
Michelle, along with the rest of her family, currently run an organization called Backpacks for Sasha to provide children and families in need with backpacks, school supplies, and food. They created Backpacks for Sasha in memory of her 5-year-old niece. Here’s her story:
Backpacks for Sasha
“What I’m really passionate about right now is an organization that I run called Backpacks for Sasha. In May of 2019, my sister committed suicide and she took my niece with her. Mental illness was the driving force. Our family figured the best way to remember Sasha and commemorate her memory was to collect backpacks and school supplies for less fortunate children. Sasha started school in 2018. And when she went to school, we noticed that she was blossoming and thriving, and her teacher absolutely loved having her in class. She loved being around the other kids and having fun with them. And she was just doing very well with the school situation. So we figured that was a good way to remember her because she liked helping people and what better way than to help her classmates and other classmates like her. It's really nice to know that we're helping people in the community. I actually just got a message from one of the people who got school supplies last year and then got food this year and she was very appreciative. And that to me is the best part.
This year, because of COVID-19, I decided to do backpacks and food. That's been a really big hit with the local schools, because that's something that people in need always could use a little bit more of. I run the Buffalo branch of Backpacks for Sasha. There's also branches in Binghamton, where I'm originally from, and in Albany, where my sister had moved and where Sasha was going to school. So right now we're just trying to get donations. I've been having problems getting donations this year but we've done about 15 backpacks and they're jam packed with school supplies. I think Binghamton did about 40 and Albany did about 30.
I have a PayPal set up for Backpacks for Sasha. I also have “Backpacks for Sasha Buffalo” on Facebook. People can get in touch with me on the Facebook page to set up arrangements if they want to donate.”
“I currently work for a party rental company out in Buffalo, New York. I actually had to find new work because of COVID. I was working at a data entry job and the work just wasn't there. So they laid me off and that's how I ended up with the rental company. Before that, I got a part time job at a grocery store and I tried to apply for unemployment figuring, “Hey, I'm not making as much as I was, can you give me a little bit of help here?” And New York state said, “Nope, sorry. They worked you four out of five days. We can't help you.” I was putting myself out on the front lines at a grocery store five days a week making two to $300 and I couldn't get any help. Meanwhile, people who took the voluntary furloughs got 600 extra dollars a week, plus whatever they were making on unemployment. So that was very frustrating to me.
With my new job, I use Earnin to get through the end of the pay cycle. I first found Earnin when I had some car problems last year and needed a couple extra bucks until payday. Getting paid biweekly, you pay all your bills within that first week and then the second week, you’re left with almost nothing. So that's usually how I use it, just to get through to the next week. It's usually for groceries and gas to get to and from work.”
Michelle is an amazing example of perseverance and making the best out of a rough situation. To learn more and donate to Backpacks for Sasha, visit the Backpacks for Sasha Buffalo Facebook page.
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