The Help Priscilla Never Thought She’d Need

Aug 13, 2020


Priscilla* never dreamed she’d need to ask for financial assistance. “I’d always been able to take care of myself,” she said. She was a successful therapist finishing up her doctoral studies, physically active and healthy. But a series of events beyond her control – an injury and the coronavirus – led her to do something she never thought she’d have to – seek help from The Salvation Army.

When Priscilla was exercising last year, she twisted her knee. Her leg swelled considerably, so she went to the doctor, who diagnosed her with degenerative arthritis. While she waited for her scheduled surgery, Priscilla battled debilitating pain. “It shut me down,” she said. “Everything else fell to the wayside. It was traumatic.”

When COVID-19 changed everyone’s daily reality, Priscilla’s surgery was postponed. The pain continued, and so did her absence from work. Priscilla, who lives alone, was unable walk or drive, so making it from her home on the north side of Chicago to her job in Moline became impossible.

Her income decreased drastically, but her bills remained constant. Soon she was a couple months behind on rent. She thought about going to the City for help, but notes that assistance works on a lottery system, so there were no guarantees she’d receive the needed funds. “I didn’t know where else to turn,” she said. Then a friend suggested she see if The Salvation Army could help.

With a sense of failure and shame, Priscilla approached The Salvation Army Mayfair Community Church. “I felt bad asking for help,” she said. But she was pleasantly surprised by the staff member she met with. “She was so sweet and kind,” Priscilla said, adding she was treated with dignity and respect. “She gave me hope.”

The Army provided funds to cover Priscilla’s back rent, removing the heavy weight she had been carrying around for months. “It meant I could finally go to bed and sleep,” she said, on the verge of tears. “Because when you’re worried about where you’re going to live, it’s traumatic.”

While she waits for her surgery, which has now been rescheduled for 2021, Priscilla survives on strong pain medication and prayer. “I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t have prayer,” she said. She spends her days working on her dissertation and holding online therapy appointments with some clients. She’s also looking for additional work opportunities she can do from home.

As she does her best to navigate her new normal, Priscilla is grateful for the help she received from The Salvation Army. “They were there to help me get through the pandemic,” she said. “To me, The Salvation Army means survival.”

*Name changed to respect client’s privacy.

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For tax purposes: The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division EIN is 36-2167910.

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