EMPTY STOCKING FUND: Agency helps family through tough streak

By: Jesse Byrnes Special to The Gazette
December 5, 2013 Updated: December 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm
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This is one of a series of stories about the nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.

Last year, Holly's husband was laid off from his construction job. Pregnant with their fourth child, all under age 8, Holly, a CNA, went unemployed too.

They lost their house and cars.

"I wasn't ready," she said of being forced into maternity leave, their family income on the line.

Then, after five years on a waiting list, the Department of Housing and Urban Development provided a four-bedroom home to rent. "We didn't have cars but it was still a blessing we had a house," said Holly, 24, who's full name is not being used to protect her privacy.

Her husband found work in Gunnison but lost his job again, this time without notice. "We weren't prepared for it," said Holly.

In September, the family, unable to make the rent, faced losing its house again. The rent is paid a month in advance.

That is when Ecumenical Social Ministries stepped in. ESM works to keep families from being homeless or jobless and helps pay for prescription medications and medical needs, among other services.

"We had all these miracles happen - we can't have it die now," Holly remembers thinking at the time.

ESM paid about $400 of their $725 rent that month.

"It was a big relief because I thought we were going to be out on the street," said Holly.

They gave her husband dress shirts and pants to go out and do interviews.

"He got a job right away," said Holly, noting ESM gave him extra clothes for his new profession as a baker.

The agency also helped with food and diapers.

When she was young, ESM assisted her mom with rent and medication. "She almost lost (her home) with four kids of her own," said Holly, adding her mom is doing better. "It was kind of scary to go through it myself."

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