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.
Westside CARES has helped three generations of Kathy's family, including even her dog.
"They've been a big part of my life, and they've helped me out with so many things," said Kathy, whose full name isn't being used to protect her privacy. "I know they help a lot of other people out here on the west side, too. They've helped me out in just about every way imaginable."
Kathy, 55, has lived on the west side of Colorado Springs for some 30 years, 20 of which Westside CARES helped the single mother provide for her two daughters, keeping them fed, healthy and under a safe roof.
Kathy's daughters, now grown and married and with their own children, were able to succeed thanks in large part to the agency, which helps the working poor on the west side of El Paso County by providing emergency assistance with housing, food, transportation, school supplies and medical needs.
"There were times when we didn't have food, and the food Westside CARES provided us helped the kids perform better at school because they could eat," she said.
Between all of her bills, Kathy said she just sometimes couldn't keep up.
"I got behind on rent because I wasn't working, so they helped me out with rent for the month," Kathy said. "There was a lot of times where I wasn't making enough money to pay for both rent and food, so they helped me out with groceries."
Even now, the agency is helping Kathy as she searches for a new job; the business she worked at for the last eight years closed recently.
When times are hard and basic necessities are difficult to come by, Kathy knows she can receive the emergency help she needs from Westside CARES, a helping hand for which she says she is "incredibly thankful."