Hope When There Is None

Apr 12, 2021

Anna went into 2020 with high hopes. The single mom of three was working as a Patient Care Technician, going back to school to earn a new degree (and pay bump), and was preparing to send her middle child off to college in the fall.

Then, as it did for most everyone, COVID-19 turned her world upside down.

The outpatient heart clinic where she worked shut down for a while, then reduced her hours. Her ulcerative colitis and diabetes caused her to go on medical leave, meaning more weeks at reduced pay. “It was really challenging,” Anna said.

Her story highlights the plight of many with underlying health issues during the pandemic. Their health risks make them extra vulnerable to the virus but working from home isn’t an option for so many of them, including Anna.  

Unfortunately, the challenges weren’t over. Anna’s younger daughter struggled with endless hours of remote learning and her 26-year-old son had open-heart surgery, spending 70 days at Loyola before eventually returning home.

The whole family was struggling, and so were the family finances.

“We got crazy behind on everything,” Anna said. Though she was able to sign up for food stamps, she didn’t qualify for unemployment because she was still working, even though at reduced hours. She borrowed what she could from friends, but money was still tight.

“Rent was the biggest thing,” she said. Soon she was behind thousands of dollars. A friend suggested she call her township for help with rent, and the person she reached there referred her to The Salvation Army.

A caseworker at the Blue Island Corps Community Center worked with Anna and got her approved for funds to cover all her back rent. “That meant everything to me,” she said. “It was a load of stress off my shoulders.”

Anna is now trying a new therapy for her ulcerative colitis, and though she’s not 100%, she’s feeling better. She’s also back to her full hours at work and will start in-person classes at school next week.

“This assistance made a world of difference to me,” Anna said. “The Army means hope when there is none. It’s beyond words how thankful I am.”

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