It takes A Village
Brittany was a sometimes client of South County Community Services in 2015, who always came in with a great smile and often with one of her children. She had come to us for help with an eviction and received help from both HRI and SCCS in order to cover it. Her situation was tenuous, but stable. Her fiancé worked seasonally and although they were never comfortable, they made things work. In the beginning of 2016, however, things took a turn for the worse. Brittany’s father died, and she moved her family in with her mother—fulfilling her father’s request that she care for her after he passed. Brittany did not get along with her mother, who had significant health issues that often caused her to be difficult to interact with. Eventually, things came to a head and her mother kicked out Brittany and her family and changed the locks. Brittany was devastated—and to make it worse, her fiancé lost his job.
When Brittany came into SCCS, she was living in a relative’s trailer and had only a few days before she would have to move to a shelter. We helped Brittany apply for cash assistance at our DHHS kiosk and gave her referrals to Loaves and Fishes, in order to increase the frequency that she could get food from once a month to once a week. We also helped Brittany navigate the housing system in Kalamazoo, which is often confusing and frustrating for people who need housing immediately.
We saw Brittany periodically over the next few weeks when she came in for a food pantry or to turn in paperwork through the kiosk. She was always happy and friendly, and said that she was much less stressed than she had been during our last meeting. She had gotten cash assistance from DHHS, and with the influx of food and money she was able to contribute to her relative’s household and thus stay for the time-being. One day, Brittany came in with a sheet of paper that she had gotten from counselor at her son’s school. It described a new program paid for by the Local Housing Assistance Millage, which she hoped would help her with her first month’s rent and security deposit for a new apartment. She wanted to share the information with us in case we knew anyone who could benefit.
The next time we saw Brittany, she had used DHHS/Michigan Works! assistance to purchase a car in order to aid her with employment and was planning on moving into her apartment soon with help from the Local Housing Assistance Fund. Brittany was very happy to be able to stay in the South County area, where her family and friends are and where her children go to school.
I have given out information on the Local Housing Assistance Fund to several families, and every time I do I think of Brittany and her smile. The information that I have is a copy of the original sheet that she gave me, marked with notes about different contacts. I like to think of her generosity and caring being passed on to other families, and am grateful to be able to be part of it. It takes many people like Brittany to make a difference. Fortunately for South County, we have a lot of them.
Emergency Assistance Coordinator