A Christmas to Remember

December 10, 2019 | by mharding

Names have been changed to protect the anonymity of 211 users.

The Christmas season looked especially bleak for Shelia, a single mother and Lake Charles resident. A survivor of domestic abuse which left her disabled, basic necessities were hard to come by, much less Christmas gifts for her nine-year-old daughter, Mandy.

“I rely totally on prayer and blessings of God right now,” she told 211 specialists describing her dismal situation.

She was no stranger to 211 as the resource agency previously assisted her with a transition to public housing after being homeless for 14 months post Hurricane Harvey. Though sheltered, the traumatic head injury she endured at the hands of her now jailed abuser left her with few additional financial resources.

“I barely pay the bills to keep us from being homeless again,” she said.

In her correspondence with 211 she requested food, household supplies, hygiene products and a special request for her daughter. “She has been through so much with being homeless and losing everything; as well as getting out of the domestic violence environment. I have nothing to give her for Christmas,” she reported.

Through the collaborative efforts of 211 and its connected resources, Shelia and her daughter have now been accommodated for the merriest of Christmas.

United Way of Southwest Louisiana partner agency, Salvation Army of Lake Charles now has an Angel Tree with Mandy’s name on it. Residents are shopping this season, especially for Mandy—a huge load off of Shelia’s mind.

Shelia now awaits the finalization of her disability paperwork while attending lifestyle courses through a local agency on money management, budgeting and parenting. Sarina Clooney, United Way of Southwest Louisiana director of 211 and resource information, said, “We’re giving her the resources not only to help now but also to give her hope in her next steps.”

The Christmas season will indeed be warm for Shelia and Mandy and 211 will continue its support of the family long after the holiday season ends. “The gift of giving for 211 is all year long,” Clooney said.

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