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.
A downward spiral of events led Lisbeth to the Salvation Army.
Lisbeth moved from Panama to Colorado Springs to be closer to her sister. Then about 10 years ago, she got sick and weak, but didn't know why. As a single mother, she struggled with getting her children to daycare and making it through the day. Her children had a bad experience with a babysitter that had traumatized them, which created further difficulties.
Lisbeth, whose last name is not being used to protect her privacy, eventually was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
"I was in bed most of the time," she said.
The doctors were able to give her medicated patches to ease her pain, but she didn't want to stay on the medications for too long because she had to care for her children.
Her neighbor suggested she seek help from the Salvation Army. Right away, they assisted Lisbeth with childcare and reassured her that everything would be okay. Lisbeth was worried her children might be kicked out of the program because they were struggling with the traumatic experience, but the Salvation Army helped them grow. The Salvation Army was also there when Lisbeth needed help with food, Christmas presents and just someone to talk to.
"There was always someone to talk and listen," she said. "They helped me keep going."
Lisbeth was able to go to college and get a degree, and the agency helped her find work as a legal assistant.
"They helped me build up my own self when all doors were closing to me," she said. "I also have very good kids, thanks to them."
Lisbeth said her kids love the Salvation Army, and now, years later, they both volunteer with the agency - which still is there for Lisbeth if she needs help or someone to talk to.
"I am so grateful," she said. "I wouldn't be where I am, I think, without their support."