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Angels Among Us, Making a Difference Without Making a Splash

In extraordinary financial times, meet a woman behind a group that's doing extraordinary things to help those in need.

Poverty, financial need, hard times are not the first terms that jump to most people's minds when they think of the people who live in Tredyfrrin and Easttown townships. The average assessed property value in Tredyffrin is $221,000–not what you normally think of as "poor" or "in need."

Unemployment, divorce, medical emergencies do not discriminate based on income. When the unexpected happens and someone's income drops to zero in the blink of an eye, the effect, especially on spouses and children, can be devestating. That's where the local volunteer group T & E Care comes in.

"Counselors will hear about a kid who can’t do his homework because there’s no electricity. Or we’ll hear about a kid who needs a computer when he gets to college," explains T & E Care President and Founder Sandi Gorman. Gorman says T & E Care will step in to pay a PECO bill or help purchase a computer.

For a student in the T/E School District, the problems can be every bit as serious as kids who don't have access to learning tools in any other district.  One thing that is different, Gorman says, "it's often difficult for parents (adults) in T/E to ask for help."

The problems have intensified as the economy has soured. "When we first started, we really expected to hear mostly from families with chronic (ongoing) needs," Gorman told Patch. "But in the past two years epecially at least 50 percent of the families we help, their lives have become complicated through job loss, emergency medical situations or divorce."

Churches and school counselors are often the first, and only, people to hear about a family's financial crisis. People who live in expensive houses often struggle with keeping up appearances. T & E Care most often hears about the problems through the school district or clergy in the local ministerium. Writing on the group's website, Gorman explains how T & E Care can help.

"T & E Care will try to lend support to a local family who needs a little extra assistance when in a transition or emergency situation. We can’t make any promises since we are simply 'families helping families' and not a formal government organization, but we feel confident that people in this community will do everything possible to help get the family back on its feet again. All requests for help are authenticated and in all cases we are very sensitive to confidentiality for those receiving the assistance."

The group's goal is to help provide short-term help quickly in situations where government aid is either too slow to help or simply unavailable. It's people helping people.

Gorman and her husband Kirk started T & E Care in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"After Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the Gulf Coast area in September 2005, a number of the residents of Tredyffrin and Easttown townships (as well as a few neighboring communities) decided to pool their resources to support a few families who chose to relocate to this area. In order to help in an efficient way, we needed to organize ourselves. Before we knew it offers to help were pouring in. The Residence Inn in Berwyn offered rooms at a very reasonable rate, a family offered a car, doctors offered services, and other community members offered jobs, clothing and general support. The community was incredibly generous in supporting three families that eventually made their way here, all from the New Orleans area, but all through very different circumstances."

Today, T & E Care is a 501(3c) charitable orgainzation and all donations are tax deuctible.

"Because we don't have a continual and/or guaranteed source of money, we prefer that a family is working (or trying to get a job).  We try to get a family over a hurdle, but we can not be a regular source of financial help for them.  Some hurdles are bigger than others of course."

And as the holiday season begins, Gorman says there is a need for money, items and volunteers. She says the group always welcomes monetary donations which can be used to purchase grocery and other gift cards that can help families in need meet immediate needs.

Click here for a full list of items needed and opportunities to help with the T&E Care 2011 Holiday Program.

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