At the Barry County United Way Campaign and Day of Caring Kickoff last week, Executive Director Lani Forbes told the story of a woman she called “Patricia.” The BCUW theme, “Live United Be the One” was illustrated perfectly by her story, how “one” after another “one” stepped up to help her become an independent woman succeeding on her own.
This is the story Forbes told:
A Hastings woman, Patricia was being shuttled from one family member or another for a time depending on who needed her Social Security Disability check. She has lived in Nevada, California, New Jersey and now Michigan.
Vern, who works for Hastings Department of Public Works, was the first one of many other ones who stepped up for Patricia. He saw her most valuable possessions on her front porch, then saw her take her items to the end of the road and wait for someone to pull up, load all of the items into the car and be driven away, only to return a few days later.
He saw the items would soon be back out on the porch and the cycle would start all over. Vern stopped Patricia and asked if he could help. He brought her to the United Way, where Emily became the one to find her shelter. The Hastings City Police became the one when they went to her former home, located her missing Bridge card and gathered the rest of her belongings for her.
The Salvation Army was the one who provided overnight housing at the Parkview Motel where Naynika and Victor became the ones.
At Green Gables Haven, Christy became the one, connecting Patricia with legal services, holistic counseling and the prosecutor’s office.
Sue at the Department of Health and Human Services became the next one, making sure Patricia had food and medical benefits.
Next, Courtney became the one, helping her figure out what she could afford for housing and utilities. Together, they figured out a stable plan for Patricia’s future based on her limited income and resources. //
Karri became the one from Barry County Mental Health that helped with underlying and current issue that any of us would face if we had lived the life of Patricia.
Barry County Transit becomes the one, when Patricia chooses to go to the Fresh Food Initiative.
The next one, Jenna of Pine Grove Housing, contacted Patricia to say she had a Housing Choice Voucher available. Patricia, armed with her budgeting plan, and helped by Jenna, searched and found an apartment that met requirements and was affordable. Habitat ReStore provided affordable items needed for her to move into her first apartment.
“What if Vern chose not to be the one? What if Vern would have been too busy? Thankfully, Vern chose to be the one,” Forbes said.
“Everyone advocated for Patricia, for her safety and well-being. She was an active participant in making herself successful.
“After her first payment to her landlord, she called Emily, she was so excited, she did it, she had made her rent payment and she said, ‘I feel like a real adult now!’”
Patricia had not had this amount of outside support in her life. Because of the way those choosing to be the one were involved in her life, she began to believe in herself.
Today, Patricia is living on her own successfully for the first time in 57 years, Forbes said.
“The Barry County community allowed this to happen. Because you all chose to Be the One. Will you be the one? The Patricia’s of this world thank you.”