Most of us have a mental picture of what homelessness looks like.
But that picture is only part of the story. The rest of the story is made up of the many whose homelessness is hidden — the invisible homeless.
Families with children are often among the invisible homeless. Making up 50 percent of the homeless in the Boulder community, families with children tend to double- and triple-up in an apartment, or live in their cars, so we don’t see them on the streets. We don’t even know they exist.
But it is a real and growing problem, characterized by stories of hardship and struggle. Often, these stories culminate in turnaround — with help from EFFA.
The hardships are varied and strike all kinds of people.
Lenora sustained a serious brain injury in a car accident at the age of 33. No longer able to work, she started her own business selling essential oils, but full recovery was slow.
Lenora says, “For me, EFAA is the difference between eating and not eating. I have a lot of dietary restrictions because of my brain injury…at EFAA, I have the ability to make choices that meet my dietary needs.
Between my new business and EFAA’s help, I am able to begin working my way back toward becoming self-sufficient again. EFAA is a big part of why I am as high functioning as I am today and the reason I am on a track toward success.”
Or consider the donor who became a client.
“I’ve worked hard all my life. When I was laid off after a merger… I found it very hard to land another job because of my age… For a while, I made ends meet with contract work, but that wasn’t enough to keep me going long term.”
Then the daughter of this longtime EFAA donor developed serious health issues and lost her job. So the former donor sold her home to help her daughter keep hers — the only home her grandchildren had known. Eventually, the former donor’s savings were depleted and she turned to EFAA. EFAA helped with a rental deposit and access to the food bank.
“My daughter has a new job now and I am able to take care of the kids… In my spare time, I am taking classes to learn new software so I can go back to work.”
Or imagine the plight of the architect.
“I had been a successful architect for about 10 years when the economic downturn of 2008 hit…like many others, I lost my job. At first, I thought I’d get another job easily, but no one was hiring in my line of work. About the same time, my wife and I were separating and I had a 3-year old son to take care of. I knew I had to provide for him and I was open to any job – even entry level jobs. I drastically downsized my life to the bare bones and took a minimum wage job at IBM. I soon came to realize that a minimum wage paycheck does not cover even the basics you need to live…
I didn’t know where our food would come from or if the lights would stay on. I desperately needed help, and EFAA was there for me. They helped me with groceries and paying the electricity bill. And, even more importantly, they gave me hope that I would get through this. Hope is huge. It took me a long way…
At IBM, I got promotions with raises and that helped a little. But shortly after that, we learned that our whole division was being moved overseas, and once again I found myself without a job. I quickly got a job as a courier. One day I had a package to deliver to my old architecture firm – the one that laid me off.
I did not want to go. I tried to switch deliveries with other couriers, but in the end, I had to make the delivery myself.
When I went into the office they were so glad to see me and one of the partners told me they had a lot of work and needed me back. I got my old job back at even better pay than before. Now my son and I are doing great. He’s 6 years old and has no idea that any of this happened. I worked hard to keep his life as normal as possible…
I’ve learned that you never know who you’re helping. It could be someone who looks like you; just a regular person — someone you pass in the street. Before I experienced the fear of not having enough money to pay for rent and food, I had no idea that ‘someone in need’ could be me.”
The Boulder Source is pleased to honor Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) as our Featured Friend for June. Stay tuned to learn more about EFAA’s client stories, programs, and fundraising events.
To learn more about EFAA, visit: www.efaa.org
For questions, call EFAA at: 303-442-3042
Learn how you can make an impact by volunteering by clicking here.
To join the cause by donating, click here.
Photo courtesy of EFAA.