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Website of the Week: Social Security Stories Project

 Social Security turns 75 on August 14.

My father died in a farming accident when I was only 8 and my brother was 12. Our mom took a job as a waitress to help make ends meet. My bother and I also got odd jobs after school. We took the small amount of money from my father’s life insurance and bought a small home in a little town.

Without the help social security benefits (survivor benefits) we would not have been able to make it the first few years after his death. I continued to “draw social security” until the maximum age and later was able to go on to college after high school.

I worked my way through school and went on to graduate school and got a degree in health care administration. It has always been fulfilling helping others. My family and I will always be grateful for the monthly benefit check which helped us through a very tough financial and emotional time in our lives.

So reads a testimonial on the website of the Social Security Stories Project, an initiative of the nonprofit Frances Perkins Center, based in Maine.

Social Security turns 75 on August 14, and the Perkins Center–named after the first woman to serve in the U.S. Cabinet, as Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt–is calling on the public to share stories of how Social Security has helped people. The project has a goal of receiving 1,000 stories–both text and video–by the end of July. The stories will then be reviewed for possible inclusion in a new book to be published in honor of Social Security’s 75th anniversary.

Ten such stories are featured in a new video that was showcased by the National Academy of Social Insurance on June 22, 2010 at the National Press Club in Washington. The video uses photos submitted by the story tellers, as well as audio captured through a special toll-free number set up for the project.

Those who have received Social Security as well as those who know of a friend or family member whose life was impacted are encouraged to submit their stories. Online submission is easy and requires less than 400 words or a short video. Details and a submission form are available at Stories can also be shared by calling 1-800-335-2082.

“We are hoping the younger generations will interview their parents and grandparents on the subject which is why our website offers interview questions,” says Barbara Burt, executive director for the Frances Perkins Center.

Stories featured in the video include:

*The story of a new dad that died a few days after his son was born. The son received his Social Security benefits, preventing a further tragedy for the family. “I am saddened that my grandson has to grow up without his daddy,” says Angela Stockwell of Athens, Maine. “But I am grateful that a program which began 75 years ago still exists today to help struggling families deal financially with the loss of a loved one.”

*The story of a dad struck by cancer suddenly, leaving his wife to care for their children alone. “The funeral director in our small town told my mom about benefits available from Social Security that would help her,” says Evonne Zalewski of Greendale, Wis. “ I remember my mom telling me how this will help so much and that we will not be poor or have to move. Having grown up during the depression with only food stamps available was terrifying for my mom.”

“We’re inviting people across America to share examples of how Social Security made a meaningful difference in their life or the life of someone they know–as it currently does for one in six Americans,” says Burt.

And the project is also the Government Video Website of the Week!

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