When Jennifer Lewis suddenly required two new tyres for her car, the 64-year-old faced the possibility of not being able to afford food for the week.
Luckily, she already had an appointment with the St Vincent de Paul Society.
“I think someone up there was looking out for me,” she said.
“Thank goodness, because I had to get the car fixed.
“I would have been totally stuck without it.”
Living with Crohn’s disease, osteoarthritis, asthma and gall stone disease, Ms Lewis weighs just 35 kilograms.
She relies on her car to get to doctors appointments and although she receives a Newstart allowance, she said she had been told she is not sick enough to receive a disability pension.
“At Christmas last year I weighed 70 kilograms, and I have since lost half my body weight,” she said.
“So I am not coping terribly well with it.
“I have $140 to get me through the week and that is it.
“It has just been a big battle, for a really long time.”
St Vincent de Paul Society’s Melissa White works with Ms Lewis on a volunteer basis through the organisation’s assistance office.
She was there on Saturday when Ms Lewis came in.
“Her car was veering to the right and she thought she needed a wheel alignment,” she said.
“She soon realised when they put it up on the hoist that two of the tyres were down to the bare metal and were about to blow.
“So that $140 that she would normally have for food and very little else, all went on tyres.
“Newstart doesn’t allow for things like that.”
A former office worker, Ms Lewis said her health had been deteriorating for the past three years.
She first reached out to the St Vincent de Paul Society when she realised she couldn’t afford to buy food.
“They are lovely people and such a big help,” she said.
“I would be totally stuck without them. I would probably weigh even less.
“They are my lifeline.”
Ms Lewis said each morning when she woke up, her first thought was how she was going to get through the day.
“It is a daily struggle, but you have just got to keep going,” she said.
“You just have to keep trying. I don’t buy a lot.
“I must admit I live on turkey mince and fish, because I have had a bowel resection and there are many things I can’t eat.
“Nothing is easy, but I just have to keep trying.”
Ms White said she had never met someone with a more positive outlook on life than Ms Lewis.
“On Saturday we just kept saying to her – ‘you are an inspiration’,” she said.
“Because Jennifer is one of the most positive people I have ever met.
“Despite everything life keeps throwing at her.”
The St Vincent de Paul Society is one of four charities supported by The Examiner’s Winter Relief Appeal, along with City Mission, the Launceston Benevolent Society and the Salvation Army.
This year marks the appeal’s 60th year and in that time more than $3 million has been raised by the community.
Ms White said the appeal was vital for many people who were doing it tough.
“Jennifer is the perfect example of how a change in circumstances can completely turn someone’s life upside down,” she said.
“We always see a spike in winter, but demand for assistance is felt throughout the year.
“Quite often it is those additional, sudden expenses that make the difference.
“Like having to get new tyres for your car or registration. Electricity prices always hit families hard in winter.
“People have relationship breakdowns – all of those factors can play a part.
“People present to us with various different challenges and the Winter Relief Appeal allows us to support people through these difficult times.”
The 2018 appeal closed on Friday, with more than $70,000 raised, exceeding the $60,000 target.
Ms Lewis said it was important for people to understand how vital charities like St Vincent de Paul were.
“I think the community should get behind these charities, because they are needed by so many people,” she said.
“There are a lot of people out there who are battling, who need help and should be able to get it.”
The fundraising total for the 2018 Winter Relief Appeal will be announced next week.