Thinking outside the box and being quick on our feet when helping clients can sometimes mean the difference between a roof over their head or a cold night of uncertainty. Other times it can mean the difference between long-term improved health and job opportunities or a life time of struggles.
Meet Gwen, a client of the Action Center for the past several years. Gwen has utilized nearly all of the basic services the Action Center has to offer, but received a different kind of support a few weeks ago.
After her landlord gave her a 30-day notice to vacate her apartment she recently came home to find that suddenly and without notice, her landlord removed the locks from her apartment.
When Anita, our crisis counselor received this information, she contacted our Tenant Landlord counselor, Phyllis to get an in-depth explanation of the law. Phyllis provided Anita with all of the information she needed to get in touch with CO Legal Services, a partner agency, so Gwen would be able to regain access to her apartment. Within one day and thanks to quick thinking, the Action Center was able to rally a number of resources and services to prevent a client from being unlawfully evicted and ultimately homeless.
Most clients receive a five-day supply of food, new clothes and counseling resources and couldn’t be more grateful to have those stresses relieved. Some clients, however, have life-changing experiences thanks to the Action Center.
Jane is a client who has received a number of basic services from the Action Center and stayed in our shelter in 2009. Over the years and with the help of counselors, she got back on her way to a self-sufficient life. She landed a job delivering pizza, reported it was going very well and recently got a raise. While things were going well for Jane, she still has one major problem – her teeth have become a serious health and cosmetic issue. All of Jane’s teeth are nearly gone so it’s difficult to eat and she struggles with her self esteem. Ready and excited to move to the next level with an upgraded job, Jane was in desperate need of dentures.
Thanks to our Health Navigator, Jule, Jane was able to apply for a grant from Friends of Man and AV Hunter Trust to cover her dental bill for dentures. All but $300 of the bill was covered and Jule recalls, “Jane did a dance at my desk when she received word of the grant.” “She hopes to get a better job with her new appearance so she may provide for her daughter. She’s come a long way since her days at the shelter.” We couldn’t be happier to have helped Jane with her inner and outer smile so her already promising future is even brighter!
Our health navigators work diligently with clients over the course of several weeks to put together all of the working pieces and walk clients through this difficult and sometimes overwhelming process.
Brooke, one of our health navigators says “it’s very rewarding to go shoulder to shoulder with our hard-working clients to help them attain such a unique and heartwarming reward as new teeth. It’s a big deal for not only the client, but also for us to assist them through this process – very different from our more typical daily counseling.”
On any given day at an Elementary school, there’s a fair chance that loud squeals and giggles are resonating through the halls as one little girl or boy is celebrating their birthday with classmates and cake – enjoying a temporary sugar high. Those of you with little tykes in your life know how very critical it can be for a child to have a birthday party, being the center of attention and getting showered with gifts. It is a moment that is built up to for many months and with it comes many hopes and dreams.
Imagine if that child in your life didn’t have that joy, and instead, was burdened with the weight of the world knowing their parents didn’t have enough money for birthday gifts, not even a cake with candles. For many children at The Action Center, this is their reality. They don’t expect to be showered with the latest and greatest in dolls and action figures, they only hope that they’ll get just one gift their wishing for.
This year, Jr, wanted a cake to take to school and celebrate with his friends and was hoping to get a bicycle. Jr’s parents came in for services including a five-day supply of food, bus tokens, clothing and diapers. They sat down with Anita, our Crisis Counselor to talk about the terrible situation they were in and how they were fighting so hard to stay afloat and provide for their three children. Jr’s mother, Tania, expressed her hope that the Action Center might have a sweet treat that she could take to Jr. at school.
Moved by their drive to re-gain stability and saddened that Jr’s birthday may not be celebrated, Anita headed to the donation dock and talked to Edna who knew just how to make this little boy’s dreams come true. Edna handed Anita a giant tray of Cars™ cupcakes! When Tania dropped them off at school, Jr. was ecstatic!
A day later, the family came back and told Anita that they were unable to buy their son any gifts and waiting to hear from their social worker if they could obtain a gift card. Anita went back to the donation dock and spoke with Edna who saved the day again! When Anita walked up to Tania and Hector with a bicycle they both cried. So gracious and thankful, they told Anita to give their son the bike so he would know how helpful the Action Center was to them. When Jr. saw the bike he “lit up like a Christmas tree, said thank you, then jumped on it and rode it on the sidewalk in front of The Action Center,” said Anita.
The joy that this extra effort brought to Jr. and especially his parents is truly indescribable through words as many of us can’t imagine not being able to give a child something as simple as a birthday cake. Thanks to your contributions, The Action Center made it possible for this family to celebrate together and forget about their struggle for a while.
There are children in your child’s class that go through this every year. You may not know it and you may think “I had no idea,” but the reality is that one in three children in Jeffco Public Schools are on the free and reduced lunch program and living in poverty. In fact, 2,400 of those children are actually homeless and their parents make these difficult decisions every day and often can only provide the very basic of needs for their children.
We are so thrilled to tell you Julie’s story of ups and downs that ultimately have led to success and a new pathway to self-sufficiency.
Julie first came to the Action Center in April, homeless, depressed, just released from prison, anxious and drinking heavily. Despite all of these negatives in her life, Julie was ready to get help and make a change. With the help of the counseling staff, Julie was referred to Arapahoe House for detox and rehab as well as Jefferson Center for Mental Health – two of our connection partners. Unfortunately, Julie was having difficulty qualifying for these programs. She returned to the Action Center very distraught and in a dire situation.
Julie needed to get help because she was surrounded by friends and family members who also struggled with addiction – she needed a new beginning. She got just that. The same night she was accepted into Sacred Heart House a sober house for women in her very situation.
After a trying time at Sacred Heart House, Julie was happy to report back to us that she had been sober several weeks! She was now eligible for Arapahoe House. With our guidance and support she entered their program for a 30 day stay. During this time, Julie kept up with meetings, found a new church and new stability in her life. Surrounded by good things and good people, Julie even made plans to enroll in school for when she exited the program. So gracious for the help she received from the Action Center, she even presented Anita, her counselor, with her sobriety token. Anita was touched. She re-gifted it back to Julie as a reminder to continue on her pathway to self-sufficiency and also to keep us updated on her progress.
After 60 days of sobriety, Julie was a changed woman. With a new lease on life and new opportunities in front of her, she enrolled in school and was planning to start classes at the end of June. Anita looked forward to helping her find stable housing as she moved on to this next step in her life.
Her journey to stability and sobriety was just beginning and Julie knew it would be a battle for many years to come but was ready for the challenge. Today Julie is in school, has gotten baptized and found a whole new circle of friends to be good beacons of hope in her life. She is also in a fantastic and stable transitional housing program for sober living which will assist her in finding permanent housing when she exits the program. Her spirits are soaring and she’s found her pathway to self-sufficiency.