I met Cheryl during one of our typical sweltering summers last year.
This was during the height of COVID-19. She was sheltering at home and it was HOT. Cheryl couldn’t afford to turn on her AC. She had recently become a widow and was grieving the loss of her husband. They had shared their Austin home for over a decade and she was in danger of losing it. Her bills and rent were quickly piling up. Cheryl worried about getting evicted. She worried about getting COVID. She worried about her future.
In the middle of her overwhelming grief and anxiety, Cheryl heard about Family Eldercare’s Summer Fan Drive and reached out for help. She received large box fans that kept her and her dog cool and comfortable. The fans could also save her money on her utilities.
Like all fan drive clients, she received a resource packet that included information about Family Eldercare’s other services. She read about our in-home counseling program where licensed counselors like me travel to your home for counseling services. That’s how we met.
We worked through difficult feelings together. Cheryl began to feel less overwhelmed and isolated. But she was still facing eviction. So, I referred her to our Financial and Housing Stability program, where she quickly found a case manager dedicated to keeping older adults housed. Her case manager connected her to COVID relief funding which got 5 months of rent paid, totaling over $5,000! A big weight had been lifted and Cheryl was grateful to stay in her home.
Then Winter Storm Uri hit in February 2021, and the state shut down many of its services. Cheryl was unable to get the food stamps she relied on. She once again reached out to Family Eldercare for help. Through our crisis response initiative, Cheryl received an H-E-B gift card to help hold her over until her food stamps were reinstated.
In Cheryl’s journey with Family Eldercare, she received fans to survive our heat without AC. She was able to care for her mental health, stabilize her housing, and weather some of the worst crises our state has faced in decades.
But she still faced one final obstacle: getting a COVID-19 vaccine. She had spent hours of her time searching online to locate a vaccination appointment without any luck. She told me in our counseling sessions that she was becoming increasingly frustrated and worried. Then, we learned that Family Eldercare had worked with Austin Public Health to offer a vaccine clinic at our main office. I made sure Cheryl was signed up for the clinic and she finally received her vaccine in April.
“Shouting from the rooftops!” she told me after, expressing her deep gratitude and relief for the support that has enabled her to live independently.