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.

Lynn and her son moved to Colorado for a change from Montrose, Calif., several months ago, but it took her quite a while to find a job. In the meantime, they ran out of money and found themselves living in their car. It was very hard for her to find a job because she had no place to shower and no clean clothes.

“No one’s going to hire me if I stink,” she said.

Then someone told her she could find a clean shower at Ecumenical Social Ministries. According to its website, ESM is a nonprofit established by eight large downtown churches in Colorado Springs. It provides help for people with low-incomes, as well as assisting the homeless or jobless.

ESM provided Lynn, whose real name is not being used to protect her privacy, and her son with showers, clean clothes and “street food” that could be eaten without warming it up. They were still living in their car because Lynn didn’t want to be separated from her young son during the nights at a homeless shelter.

Thanks to the help from ESM, though, Lynn found a job as a waitress and her son is enrolling in an online school. They have found a home and are getting back on their feet.

While she said it wasn’t easy to walk into ESM and ask for help, but the people at the agency were kind and helpful.

“Just being treated as a normal person,” Lynn said of ESM. “They are very good at that.”