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.
Wendy Krueger is a native of the Tri-Lakes area, and thanks to Tri-Lakes Cares, she has been able to live in her home state, go to school and find work as a home health care worker and caregiver.
According to its website, Tri-Lakes Cares is a community-based center supported by volunteers that work to improve lives by providing emergency assistance, self-sufficiency programs and other social services to those in need.
Krueger first used the services of Tri-Lakes Cares when she was laid off from her job as a food server in 2010. The agency has helped her with utilities, commodities, rent, health care costs and school.
"On and off throughout the years, they've helped us in many ways," she said. "Just like everybody else, you get a little down on your luck."
Tri-Lakes Cares has always been there when she needs something.
About two years ago, a couple of Krueger's friends said that Tri-Lakes Cares and Care and Share were offering scholarships for certified nursing assistant programs. Krueger looked into it, and they paid $500 of her roughly $800 cost for school. After becoming certified as a nurse's aide, an employee at Tri-Lakes Cares helped her land her first job as a caregiver.
She has worked as a home health care worker and caregiver for about two years.
Krueger said Tri-Lakes Cares is important to the community.
"When my mom had us children and things were really tight, she never had a food bank or a backup," Krueger said. "She didn't have that support. There are a lot of people in our community and in my circle that actually use Tri-Lakes Cares."
Krueger said the group is there when you need support and its workers never judge.
Krueger lives with her brother in the Monument area. She has no health care insurance, and Tri-Lakes Cares helps her see a doctor when she needs it.
Krueger said her family has been in the Monument area for many generations, and she has no plans to leave. And she can, she says, thanks to Tri-Lakes Cares.
"The most important thing I think anyone should know is that they are willing to help anybody and everybody. They listen and help."
HOW TO DONATE
Make a secure donation at www. fillanempty stocking.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. Like us on Facebook at EmptyStockingFund or follow us on Twitter @esfsprings.