Teresa is a very real member of our community who wanted to share her story. Teresa was once married with 2 great children and employed as a nurse for 18 years. By all accounts, she and her family were living a regular, ordinary American life.
But through a combination of Murphy’s law, and life’s unpredictable twists an turns, Teresa’s lift would change almost instantly.
“It was one of those life-as-you-know-it=changed-in-the-blink-of-an-eye moments,” said Teresa. You see, she was married since age 19 but her marriage crumbled on the night Teresa’s husband was arrested for domestic violence. “I had two kids, a boy and a girl. They were 7 and 10 then. I knew it wouldn’t be easy being a single mom but it was better than staying there.”
And to compound matters, Teresa’s life literally took a turn for the worse when she was severely injured hiking with her children. She fell from an old wooden bridge and the fall resulted in several broken ribs and a collapsed lung plus a 2 week stay in the hospital. Suddenly, the caregiver was the one in need of care. While at the hospital, Teresa’s internal injuries required the doctors drain two liters of blood from her chest cavity. This was the final straw.
Unfortunately, the injury caused Teresa to suddenly lose employment. The burdens of pain, fear, and uncertainty mounted as Teresa tried to maintain a normal life for her children. It was quite a struggle juggling an employment search while fighting the pains of her injuries. The Straw finally broke.
“I wasn’t rich before everything hapened but I definitely didn’t worry about food, and then, all of a sudden I’m stretching every dollar,” Teresa said. “I would be going without myself so my children could eat and then wondering if they are hungry going to bed.”
“I would have those breakdown moments,”Teresa said. “But you don’t want to do it in front of the kids. Kids don’t need adult problems.”
But with troubles mounting, Teresa took action. She was familiar with Community Helping Place and she frequently donated to the organization in years past. She was reminded about CHP’s mission by the kind staff at No One Alone’s domestic violence shelter.
“It’s difficult to go from being a caregiver to the one asking for help,” said teresa (now 48 years old). “You go through the embarrassment of it but you look in your kids’ faces and you don’t care anymore. Pride goes out the door, you become humble.”
Teresa managed to slow the downward spiral and took steps to regain control. She reached out to CHP and received food bank assistance that was immediately available to her and anyone else in need. The support and assistance of providing meals to her family went a long way towards giving her confidence, security, and a psychological lifeline she so needed.
“When you are alone and scared, kindness goes a long way. Without them [CHP] I’d still be struggling, feeling insecure, scared and alone. I had nobody.”
Working with CHP’s community navigator Debi Holloway and CHP’s Director of client service’s Paula Nick , Teresa began to piece her life back together starting with providing nutritional support to her kids.
The kids are excited to see what their mom brings home for them. “They want to see what”s in the (food) box (I bring home),” Teresa said. :Our relationship actually grew stronger because they saw that, ‘mommy’s doing that for us’.”
In addition, CHP assists Teresa with her electric bill and helped Santa put something special under the tree for the ids as well. Teresa is well under way to begin a new chapter in her life. She is optimistic of the future as she sets her sites on new employment and becoming financial independent again.
This is not an unusual story for CHP. Take note that CHP redistributes 815,757 pounds of grocery items last year alone, helped 570 individuals in need, 225 households in which 31 percent of whom are children while 15 percent are seniors. This is what we do; Neighbors helping Neighbors.