Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content EMPTY STOCKING: Care offers woman 'second childhood'

ELLIE COLE Updated: November 26, 2012 at 12:00 am

This is one of a series of stories about the 15 nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.

Rhonda Warwick has quite a list to describe the challenges she faces in her life. She has asthma, COPD, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression — and some of her issues come from the medicines that are supposed to help her.

Warwick once was a competitive judo athlete. She competed throughout the country and in 1989 came to Colorado Springs for the United States Judo Association National Judo Institute team.

“I’m a valley girl, like, gag me,” she joked, referring to her hometown in California. She fell in love with Colorado Springs, though, and now lives here.

But if it weren’t for Peak Vista, she probably couldn’t be here.

Warwick’s life took a turn when she was injured in a judo competition and laid off from her job of 18 years. Her aging mother had moved to the Springs so Warwick could care for her and that became a full-time job. The two were soon living off of her mother’s Social Security.

When her mother died, Warwick didn’t have a job. She lost her home several months later, and then was evicted from another apartment. Eventually she moved into a homeless shelter, where she spent five months. During that time, she was hospitalized 28 days at Memorial Hospital for nine different reasons. That didn’t include several brief emergency room visits.

“I am physically incapacitated five to six times a month,” she said.

She started receiving health care from Peak Vista while she was caring for her mother. “There is an incredible culture within Peak Vista, and they are always happy to help,” she said.

Peak Vista Community Health Centers is a nonprofit that provides health service to people of all ages who may have barriers to other health care.

“They offer great education in preventing and managing diseases,” she said. “They are everything you could ask for in a house doctor without house calls.”

Warwick is now living on Social Security disability in an assisted living facility.

“At 52, I’m starting on my second childhood,” she said.

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HOW TO DONATE

Make a secure donation at www.fillanemptystocking.org. Call 476-1673 to make a credit card or stock donation. Make check payable to the Empty Stocking Fund and mail to P.O. Box 910942, Denver, CO 80291-0942. Contribute $10 by texting STOCKING to 50555. Like us on Facebook at EmptyStockingFund or follow us on Twitter @esfsprings.

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