An Interview with Robyn Kehoe, Director of Field Operations
Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA)
As a result of widespread furloughs in the federal government, you or someone you know may be facing a financial rough patch right now. That's why the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA) was created - to help feds who've fallen on hard times.
FEEA is a private, nonprofit group that has strived to provide financial assistance to federal employees in distress since 1986. Historically, the group has provided grants and no interest loans to federal employees suffering as a result of natural disasters. Recently, however, they have provided no interest loans to federal employees in an effort to alleviate the financial distress brought on by furloughs.
“The situation is unprecedented,” states FEEA’s Director of Field Operations in DC, Robyn Kehoe. “With furloughs there isn’t a definitive end point and there is a rolling effect. Someone might be okay for the first paycheck or two, but a little bit further in it gets harder and harder.”
FEEA is realizing the growing effect that furloughs are having on federal employees and their families. In just four months of this fiscal year, the organization has loaned out approximately three-fourths of what it normally would provide in a full year.
Due to the overwhelming need and the organization’s limited budget, after next week, FEEA will not be able to provide assistance to all applicants. Instead the organization will have to employ stricter selection criteria with regards to its loan disbursement. Ms. Kehoe explains FEEA is now focusing solely on “people who are already in financial difficulty,” and have had furloughs exacerbate their financial distress.
She cited the case of a mother who is the sole breadwinner in a family of six. She already takes three days of unpaid leave a month to take her 13-year-old son to the hospital for his leukemia treatments. Recently furloughed, she has to take an additional two days of unpaid leave each month.
Ms. Kehoe said loans will go to individuals and families where “furloughs have pushed them over the edge; the direst cases.”
I asked Ms. Kehoe what it would take to continue providing assistance to all applicants, and she responded that FEEA would need a “major influx.” In this past month alone, the organization loaned out more than $200,000. Thus, to keep up with demand as it is, the group would need at least $50,000 a week, which they currently are not receiving.
What You Can Do To Help:
Federal Employee & Education Assistance Fund
3333 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Suite 300
Lakewood, CO 80227
If You Are A Federal Employee In Need of Assistance:
Scholarship Opportunities at FEEA: Applications for the 2014-2015 academic year will be posted in January of 2014. Scholarships are merit-based and available for federal employees and members of their family.