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.
Catherine was divorced at age 19 after being married for five years.
She was left with no way to support herself as she had neither a job nor an education. She also had no place to live, so she went to the Salvation Army for help. People there suggested she contact the Pikes Peak Community Action Agency (PPCAA).
Now 23, Catherine has been with PPCAA for about a year and says they’ve helped her become a whole new person.
“Having that extra support has changed my life,” said Catherine, whose real name is not being used to protect her privacy.
According to its website, PPCAA, helps low-income individuals and families become self-sufficient through programs that help people gain skills. The goal is to help people achieve independence.
Initially, PPCAA had no spots for Catherine.
About a month later it began assisting her with food, transportation, finding a school where she could become a CNA, paying for her schooling supplies and uniforms, and providing an elaborate, beautiful Christmas for her and her three children.
“I’m so much more optimistic because I know I have an education to back me up,” she said.
She is living in public housing and has government assistance for food, and is close to securing a job, she said.
“They’ve changed everything,” Catherine said. “They’ve really helped me become who I am.”