LIMA — Despite the safety nets that are designed to help people like Maria from falling through society’s cracks, sometimes life just hands out obstacles that are difficult to overcome.
Working two low-wage jobs to support her three children, Maria was told earlier this year that she made slightly too much money to qualify for Section 8 housing assistance. She was booted off the public program even though the child support money that official records said she was receiving had never found its way to her bank account.
All of a sudden Maria was homeless, forced to turn to assorted friends, relatives and acquaintances for shelter. Maria and her three children stayed with one friend “until her landlord said I had to go.” Living with an uncle proved to be a bad fit, Maria said, when she learned there were “bad things going on in the house that I didn’t want my kids around.”
The family currently shares a small home with a friend, her husband and their four children.
“There are 10 people living here; it gets hard. It’s rough,” Maria said.
The strain of constantly moving — four different houses since July — led Maria to sink into a state of depression.
“I lost it for a while. I was ready to send my kids to live with their dad, I was having such a bad time,” she said.
Who knows in what direction Maria’s life could have turned if not for a caseworker at Coleman Professional Services.
“I went to Coleman’s for my depression, and they did a lot for me,” Maria said. “A psychologist hooked me up with the MRSS program. She did a lot for me, and I appreciate her so much.”
Even as Maria works two jobs, money is tight, and Christmas for the kids will be sparse.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to provide my kids with what they want,” she said. “I just want them to be happy.”
While material things don’t guarantee happiness, some clothes and toys would be appreciated. The children, boys ages 14 and 8 and an 11-year-old girl, are all into technology. The 14-year-old wears men’s 30/32 pants, large shirts and coat and shoes in size 10 1/2.
Maria’s daughter wears 14/16 pants and shirts, size 7 shoes and size 14/16 coat. The 8-year-old boy wears size 8-T pants and shirts and a size 13 shoe. Coat size would be 10-12.
Maria wears tops in size 2X and 3X, shoes in 8 1/2-9 and a 3X coat.
She could also use some household items, including dishes and silverware.