How Your Life Can Unravel
What do you do when your gas has been turned off because you can’t pay the bill? No gas means no heat, no hot water, no hot meals and no showers. Your children are cold and embarrassed because they can’t bathe or wear clean clothes. It’s hard to get up in the morning.
Gradually, your two teenage sons stop going to school. The school files a truancy petition stating that your kids are “in need of assistance” and that’s how they end up in juvenile court. But court intervention doesn’t mean financial assistance, and that’s what your family needs now, when everything feels hopeless.
One Can Help learned about this single mother’s struggle when her court-appointed social worker applied to help her pay the late gas bill. Although the social worker had requested partial funding from Department of Children and Families (DCF), state funds were not readily available, and the gas company demanded full payment of the outstanding bill to restore service.
At first, the mother was reluctant to accept help and counseling from her social worker. But after One Can Help had gas service restored, her attitude shifted. The boys returned to school, and the mother was able to get the counseling and supports she needed to pull her family together. A warm home, a cooked meal and a hot shower can make all the difference.
It’s All Too Easy to Be Evicted
If you fall too far behind on your rent, you often have to pay penalty fees, due immediately. Even if you make your other rent payments on time, if you forget to cover the penalty, it grows. You can be served with an eviction notice, requiring a court appearance and possibly became homeless.
That was the crisis facing an unemployed, single mother struggling with depression, whose highly functioning autistic son had been placed in foster care. Despite her willingness to cooperate with DCF and work on her issues, if she was evicted, she would lose the ability to be reunited with her son, possibly forever.
An urgent call from her attorney to One Can Help quickly averted the crisis and the mother was able to pay the outstanding balance and remain in her home.
When You Lose Your Car, You Risk Losing Everything
You left your husband because he was violent, and now you live with your two young children in a small, low-income apartment. Your family is traumatized, and you’re struggling, but at least you have a job cleaning homes and can just get by.
Then your car gets towed after parking in the wrong space. It costs $130 to get your car out of the lot and $25 each additional day it’s there. You only have $30. You’ll lose your job if you don’t show up. You risk losing your home. You have no one to turn to, no where else to go.
For this mother, losing her car meant losing any chance of rebuilding her shattered life. Many families do not have savings or reliable friends and family to turn to. One Can Help provided the assistance that made it possible for her to get her car back, keep her job, and remain in her home with her children.
When you’re living on the margin, all it takes is a towed car to send your life into a tailspin. Linda Tirado, author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, describes her own experience with a towed car that cost her two part-time jobs and an apartment: “It’s amazing what things that are absolute crises for me are simple annoyances for people with money. Anything can make you lose your apartment, because any unexpected problem that pops up, like they do, can set off that Rube Goldberg device.”
Out of Storage
You love your two sons more than anything in the world. You know you need to be a better father, a better role model. You’re wrapping up your prison sentence for Operating Under the Influence, and you’re committed to finishing your alcohol treatment program. You’ve done so well that the prison has allowed you to start community college courses while still incarcerated.
But your boys’ mother won’t get clean. She’s deserted your sons, and now they’re in foster care, just like you once were. Everything your family owns is in storage, but you have no money to pay the fees, so it’s all going to be sold. You fear that your boys’ lives are just a replay of your own impoverished childhood.
This father was profoundly relieved when One Can Help paid for the storage fees to save the family’s belongings. He has regained custody of his sons, remained sober for two years and has a job. “I can never repay you for all your help,” he wrote, “but I can promise you that I will continue to do the right thing, stay sober, and be the best father and never let something like this happen again.” He now has a Pell Grant to complete his business degree at the community college.
A Laptop is Not a Luxury
You’re a high school sophomore who came to the U.S. from Ethiopia when you were 10. You arrived with your older sister and your uncle, seeking political asylum, but you’ve been in foster care for the past five years. You’re driven, resilient, a survivor of abuse and neglect. All you want to do is succeed in school and become a pediatrician. But you have no computer to keep up with your studies.
When One Can Help provided this 16-year-old with a reconditioned laptop, her life was transformed. Here’s how she described it:
“Before I got the laptop, I used to go to the library and do all my work. But the problem is that you can only use the computers for only an hour and then it shuts off. It was a struggle to get most of my things done on time because I also play sports in school. By the time I came home from games or practices, it was too late to go to the library and type all my papers.
“Now that I have this laptop, I take my time and get all my homework done with no problem. I want to say thank you for your help. When I become a pediatrician, I will look back and think of you guys. Thank you and god bless.”
Getting Off Welfare for Good
You’re a recovering alcoholic, a former victim of domestic abuse, and you want to pull your life together. Your 10-year-old son is the most important person in your world, but he’s been placed in foster care because your situation was just too unstable. You want to prove to him that’s it’s possible to work hard, get off welfare and build a better life for the two of you.
Your goal: attend the Red Cross training program to become a certified nursing assistant. You’ve passed the preliminary exam and interview with flying colors. You’ve even obtained a Walmart scholarship that will cover most of the $950 tuition. But you’re $250 short. Then there’s the state testing fee, a uniform, and transportation to and from class.
One Can Help paid the additional tuition that enabled this motivated mother to pay for her additional class expenses and an MBTA monthly commuter pass. Her attorney, who applied for help on her behalf, explains what happened next:
“She graduated at the top of her class, and later passed the Massachusetts state examination. The CNA accreditation has given her a chance for a career with real future in a field well-suited for her ebullient personality and caring nature—a field where there may be flexible hours to allow her to care for her son while maintaining employment. The tentative woman who felt beaten by the system and her own long history is now empowered and enthusiastic about the future. And she recently enrolled in classes at a local community college to further her nursing education. Recently, she regained full custody of her son, and the care and protection petition was dismissed.”
When Only a Parent Will Do
Your 13-year-old daughter has cancer. She’s made it through an operation on her lungs and liver, but her prognosis is grim. She’s recovering in the ICU. You are homeless, living in another state. She’s in foster care. She wants only you to be with her, and you want only to be there for her. DCF has provided you temporary housing while she’s still in the hospital. But you have no money for food or transportation. And your daughter faces a second operation in a few months. How will you manage?
Two $100 gift cards for food at restaurants near the hospital plus two $50 gas cards from One Can Help enabled this mother to be present for her very ill child, when she was most vulnerable. Sadly, this is not an isolated story. When families are broken and children are hospitalized, a small grant for transportation or food can make the essential difference for everyone to work together in the child’s best interest.