Happy Saturday, everyone! This last week I received a call from a man who was desperately searching for help. He was homeless, forcing him and his 10-year-old son to live in their car.
Our community is great at helping with the homeless, but there are no shelters for housing a man with a young child. That's where this situation became an issue I wanted to help resolve.
We, as adults, have to — I stress have to — realize our decisions, at times, are affecting more lives than just our own. As parents, we must make decisions that are good and fair for the whole family, not just for ourselves as an individual. And, I know that sometimes those are not fun choices, but when a child is born into a family and we become parents, we have a responsibility beyond ourselves.
This is where my job gets hard at times. I want to be compassionate and always give people a chance to correct their wrong choices in life, but be strong and stern. A lot of people will call and ask for help, but they aren’t ready to give up their bad ways of life. Until they want to help themselves, I can’t do much for them. But when a child is involved, and it is not their fault they are living in this situation, I weigh on the “giving another chance” side of things.
Put yourself in this young boy’s shoes. He has had no mother in his life since birth because she chose that option. The only parent he knows is his father. I am a single mom, so I am by no means knocking a single parent — man or woman — but the single father is a lot more uncommon. Now this young man has lost his home because of this pandemic due to the loss of his dad’s employment.
With our COVID-19 Relief Fund we have guidelines set by our committee and approved by our board of directors and not everyone can receive assistance from it. But in this case, since the man had lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could help with his rent. He needed more than just rent, though; he needed a downpayment. That is where our community partners come in.
Community Action Program of East Central Illinois has grant funds that can help with so many resources and rental or mortgage assistance for individuals, and families facing imminent homelessness is one of them. We had the assurance of a rental deposit from them, and thanks to our donors to our COVID-19 Relief Fund, we had funds for his first month's rent. On top of that, OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center had given us some gift cards to Meijer so we were able to help them get some necessities for their new home, as well as gas for their car. Gas in the car would guarantee the father could get to his new job that he was starting at the end of the week. The End!
Right? I love happy endings and I hope this is one that this father and his son will remember for years to come. Danville really is a great place to live.
Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.
Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 425 N. Gilbert St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone, 442-3512.