Monday, July 28, 2014
After two years of unemployment frustrations Debbie's once calm and capable husband had a mental breakdown. He struck out at her and the children and this resulted in a court restraining order. As the family spun out of control Debbie's oldest daughter just now turning 18 shared the news - her unexpected pregnancy. On top of that Debbie's youngest child her 6 year old son was struggling in school with disabilities which seemed to increase with every new family challenge.
Flash forward several months later to a family still on the brink of disintegration. Having always relied on her spouse to keep the finances afloat Debbie now had to maintain her home on her SSI payments alone. Her now very pregnant daughter applied for state assistance and received an additional $238.00 per month but the home they had rented faithfully for the past 5 years was now in eviction status.
She did not know what else she could do. She had held up the mountain for as long as she could. There was no one to turn to and no relatives to help. Now with her daughter's pregnancy due date in just two short weeks the family would find themselves homeless.
They came to Fishline for help. Upon reviewing their finances it was determined that they could afford to stay in the home if they could just get caught up - they were about $800.00 behind in rent and several hundred in utility bills. A referral was made to our partner agency St Vincent de Paul who covered all the utilities and Fishline was able to access the Housing Scholarship funds to cover the $800.00 in back rent.
Providing services to people like Debbie is not a new concept for Fishline, however we have come to understand that meeting the emergency needs of clients, while noble, is no longer enough to survive our current economic downturn and job losses. Fishline is going a step further by incorporating services that offer our community members the stability to weather a crisis, the opportunity to grow themselves out of poverty, and the real sense of personal success.
We call this new approach the SOS Program, SOS recognized as a call for help is becoming a beacon of hope. Our version of SOS stands for Stability, Opportunity and Success.
Our hope is to interrupt, at least a little bit, the cycle of poverty and dependency and help people achieve their potential. The program achieves its goals by personal and holistic interviews with new clients, an informative resource room, visiting on-site consultants, enrichment classes and community building groups.
Debbie and her daughter needed a hand up. They are now attending budgeting classes together. The daughter is attending parenting classes and utilizing WIC resources in order to be the best new Mom she can be. The family is engaged in supportive counseling and they are anxious to pay it forward whenever they are able to gain financial footing. She and her family are forever grateful for the Housing Scholarship Program and the stability it is affording them. But most importantly they are thrilled to be able to provide a safe and nurturing environment for her beautiful new granddaughter whose middle name will be Hope.
When clients have been supported and have worked hard at finding their own successful outcomes they become a catalyst for community growth. Thank you, our donors, supporters, and clients for teaching us how to work together to grow our community in positive and life changing ways.
This post was written by our Client Services Advocate, Rae Rodriguez and published in the print edition of the North Kitsap Herald on Friday, July 25th.