"It's been a godsend": Patricia's Story

By: Alejandra Solorzano, Michigan Engagement Manager 

BDT has helped more than 1 million people across the country apply to benefit programs – including in Michigan, where I live and work. In my role, I work to make food assistance more accessible to Michiganders who are eligible for but not yet participating in SNAP, known in Michigan as the Food Assistance Program (FAP). I’m so proud that BDT assists people who need support today in their hour of need, while also working with government partners at all levels to make programs simpler for eligible people to access and more efficient for staff to administer.  

I want to tell you about just one of the Michiganders we helped last year. 

Patricia, 61, is an artist and mother of three. She plays the piano and loves to draw, paint, sculpt, and make jewelry. Born and raised in Michigan, she loves being active – as a body builder, water and snow skier, hiker, and cyclist. Yet by July 2023 when Patricia called BDT’s Michigan Benefits Center, she had not been able to enjoy these hobbies and passions for many months.  

The previous fall she had been working at a restaurant – a job she loved despite the long hours on her feet – when she fell and fractured her back. At the hospital, her doctor discovered a thyroid condition that had leached the calcium from her bones and made her injuries much more severe.  

“I used to cry all day, every day. That’s how bad [the back pain] was,” Patricia said. “I have come such a long way.” 

Recovering from surgeries, ongoing breathing problems from a prior bout with COVID-19, a hernia, and a second fall while helping clear out her late father’s home just as she was getting back on her feet, Patricia still had a long road ahead. But she was building back strength every day, thanks to physical therapy, her positive outlook, and the support of her children.  

Yet because she’d been unable to work, Patricia’s financial situation had spiraled along with her physical health. She had some family who helped her where they could, but they couldn’t support her, and she understood that. 

“Everything I had is gone, because I had to live off it all these months,” said Patricia, who moved into her son’s apartment and splits the rent and utility bills with him. “I was like a fish out of water. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. Then this letter came, and I called as soon as I was able to.” 

Through our partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, BDT sent Patricia a letter about the Food Assistance Program (FAP). She was likely eligible based on her enrollment in Medicaid. When Patricia got the letter and called BDT, one of our amazing outreach specialists in our Michigan Benefits Center determined she was likely eligible for the maximum amount of expedited assistance – about $280 per month to buy groceries.  

“I already used my benefits for this month – and let me tell you, I got food,” Patricia said after receiving her MI Bridges card within a week. “I was able to plan out some meals. I bought a lot of canned goods and frozen food that would last a while. I always buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens. I eat those every day without fail. It’s just been a godsend.” 

BDT is there for people in their time of need, helping them connect to programs so they can keep food on the table and a roof over their head, as they navigate through life’s challenges. I am so proud of the work my colleagues and I do – here in Michigan and in states across the country – to make the social safety net accessible to people who need it.