Mary Gambrel was faced with hard times after her Social Security benefits were lost after 20 years. She would try to appeal the decision, but nothing could be done. She lived in an apartment for 12 years, but because of the loss of income she lost her apartment. She had nowhere to store her belonging, and no income to pay for storage, so she lost everything.
“They cut my check off and I panicked. Everything was gone, I was devastated and had no idea what to do, and I had nothing”
Mary remained in this situation for two years, trying to get her social security check back, but no progress was made. She would live with various family members, but because of the lack of resources they were not able to help. A few times Mary would have to sleep in her car. She would have to drive around to find a safe place to stay and spend the night. Mary had no stability, no home, nothing besides a car and a few clothes. She was so emotionally and physically drained she knew something had to change, and she could no longer live this way.
An individual close to Mary suggested she go to KCEOC but she was hesitant, and thought, “If my family can’t help me, how can they help me? That is where my mindset was.” She came to KCEOC scared and nervous with nothing but her clothes and her car.
Mary stayed in the Womens Emergency Shelter for five weeks. During her time at the shelter she received support, shelter, food, and resources. She also developed relationships and gained a support system with the other individuals in the shelter. She gained her strength back, and regained a sense of hope that soon she will be back on her own.
“During my time at the shelter, and the whole process, I have realized how truly blessed I am. I was feeling down, but the women and staff would let me know everything is okay, they will help me and it was very encouraging. And, the beds up there are so comfortable; I have never had a bed so comfortable. Most wonderful bed I have ever slept in. Also, I was so surprised at the churches and community that donates. Amazing that the people think about them up there. They make a huge difference in the success and wellbeing at the shelter.”
Mary had put in applications before entering the shelter for an apartment. She had not heard anything until the fifth week. She received a call saying a unit became available. This was great news: however, she had no way of paying the security deposit, electric deposit, and rent. KCEOC received funds for the Rapid Rehousing Program that were used to assist Mary in moving into her new place. She said, “I didn’t believe it until I actually got the keys. I wasn’t going to allow myself to believe it would actually happen.” KCEOC helped with the security deposit, electrical deposit, and rent.
“I tried to make it as easy as possible for them by taking care of everything I could by myself. Monday they called and three days later I was out of the shelter, it was very quick.”
Mary is now moved into her own place and self-sufficient. She said, “I just feel at peace now. I know that I am the one that is going to keep the peace in this place. It feels good to know when I go somewhere I can always go home. When I go to visit my family, I can now leave and I have a place to go to. I don’t have to sleep in my car. Nobody can say to get out.”
Mary went on to say,
“I appreciate the help, I am really thankful for the resources that helped me. If they were not available I don’t know how much longer I could have stood it. All I know to say is thank you. It means everything and I don’t just take it lightly. I couldn’t have done it by myself, and for someone that doesn’t know me to help me I think that is a blessing.
I also have a lot of respect for KCEOC and the staff in the shelter. They have to be very strong because it is hard. I thought at times with Sheila and Johnna we are pushing them too far. I have seen them overwhelmed with the need. And thought I don’t know how they do it. But they are so caring, always have a smile on their face, and help everyone so much.
Where I was and now where I am. I will always be grateful for the help, opportunity, and giving me the peace I have now. I hope I can give back as much as they given to me.”