Yvette Williams, a single mother of five, has worked for years at a local Wendy's restaurant.
But her $9-an-hour wage isn't always enough, especially since her 20-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. Williams has had to cut her hours some weeks to care for her daughter and drive her to medical appointments.
Williams, 43, turned to a place where people in need have gone for 71 years: Mooresville-Lake Norman Christian Mission.
"I don't think you could call her lazy, could you?" mission executive director Valerie Chamberlain said as the three of us chatted and Williams told her story.
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I'd gone to check out the mission's new, larger location in a former Ford dealership on North Broad Street.
It didn't take long to understand why the mission needed to expand from its 7,000-square-foot Beam Drive site to this 12,000-square-foot building that scores of community volunteers helped refurbish.
I knew more people are in need in this economy but didn't realize the local effects until my visit to the mission April 20.
The number of families the nonprofit mission serves has more than doubled, from 1,700 last June to 3,800 in March.
They're from all socioeconomic backgrounds, Chamberlain said, from the chronically poor to professionals laid off after 25 years with the same company.
When Chamberlain joined the mission four years ago, "We gave out 7,000 pounds of free food a month," she said. "Last year, it was 10,000 pounds."
This year: 28,000 pounds a month.
The mission's Free Store also gives away clothing, housewares, furniture and appliances. But the mission also provides crisis assistance, including temporary and emergency housing and help paying utilities.
Its economic independence program provides life-skills education, money management and a women's program. Its job skills and education program offers résumé writing, interviewing skills and job-search assistance.
And its senior and disabled program assists 482 clients with crisis, prescription-drug and other needs.
As the Mooresville area has endured an unemployment rate of 13.9percent, Chamberlain said, the mission has started a task force to study what more can be done for laid-off workers.
The mission, meanwhile, has begun a transitional housing program targeting single mothers. The program has four available homes scattered throughout the community. The first family is scheduled to move into one of them this month.
Chamberlain said she'd like to get Williams into the mission's job skills program, "but she has enough on her platter right now."
"The mission has helped me more than words can say," Williams said. "Not just financial support, but all kinds of support.... just being there, being a friend."
Many times, she said, she's cried on the shoulder of Nayda De La Torre, a counselor at the mission, which has seven paid staff and about 200 church and other community volunteers.
Chamberlain said people who come to the mission aren't there for handouts.
"They're fighters," she said. "They don't give up. They just need somebody to point out resources."
"I've got 3,800 families with their own stories," she said.
"Life happens," Chamberlain said as she, Williams and I talked. "It happens to very good people."
Looking at Williams, she said: "But you've got a lot of people behind you."