Living Simple

contributed by S

The Food Connection is a non-profit that distributes food to those who need it. I started volunteering here in 1988 when the director approached me at church. Over the next 5 years, I began to notice a gradual change in my attitude about what was and was not necessary for survival.

As the need for my services increased at the Food Connection, I was finding it harder and harder to work my demanding and stressful corporate job and still work at the food bank. I had to make a choice. In 1993, I created my own company with the express purpose of offering my expert assistance at an outlandishly reduced rate to non-profits within walking distance of where I live.

It sounds like a fantastic plan, but it really worked. I joined a living cooperative in downtown Tacoma, within four blocks of 12 different private social service providers. The cooperative leases our building from a local church for the price of maintaining it and paying all taxes and insurance. This keeps our costs very low. By wiring the cooperative for high speed Internet and maintaining everyone's network access, I receive my Internet access virtually free. By maintaining a number of the computers used by the cooperative's members, I received assistance with my apartment and have provided a boon to the neighborhood watch in my area. By walking to work and hitching rides with my neighbors when they get groceries, I was able to get rid of my car, thus removing the cost of purchasing, maintaining and providing gas and insurance for it.

I do use the Food Connection's services (my current gross income is well below the poverty level), but the trade-off is enormous. Their work today would not be possible without a computer expert on staff. My choice to live simply gives them (and four other nearby non-profits) a computer expert for less than a quarter the going rate.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it by

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