November 8, 2010; Source: Seattle PI | One of the cruel ironies of the continuing economic slump is that even an organization called Helping Hand—which provides emergency assistance to people in dire straits—needs someone to rescue it. According to Rosemary Martin, executive director of the South Whidbey, Wash., organization, “We’re out of money.”

As a result, since late October, Helping Hand has been turning away clients. The group typically helps by paying a month’s rent or taking care of an electric bill or home or car repairs. So far in 2010, the group assisted some 276 people. Most of its clients are women, and they include single mothers as well as grandmothers caring for their grandchildren. “We’re a temporary stopgap. Anything to keep people warm and a roof over their heads.”

Since there are still many people out there who need that help, Martin says, “It keeps me awake at night, worrying about cold weather, and what these people are going to do.” Maybe it goes hand in hand with this kind of work, Martin is an optimist and not ready to call it quits. She says the group’s annual appeal letter goes out later this month and she’s certain people will respond so Helping Hand can get back on its feet. “I believe that the money will come, and the community will step up when it knows the need.”—Bruce Trachtenberg