A Second Chance Encounter

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some days are like others and not much happens. You come to work and do what you need to, help families, close cases, and open cases. Then there are days like yesterday when something out of the ordinary happens and makes you realize why you do what you do. Below one of Kids Central’s Kinship Case Managers recounts one such encounter.
Something extraordinary happened today, while at lunch I received a call from my supervisor. She explained that there was a lady in the parking lot that needed assistance. She asked if I could help her since she knew I would be able to direct her to the resources in the county She sent her to me asking me to assist her with her requests for assistance for her two small children.
Upon meeting this lady, she struck me as an individual who was in panic mode and needed someone to sit and listen to her for a minute. Her hair was disheveled along with her clothes. She had red eyes and puffy cheeks as if she had been crying. I asked her how I could help her and brought her into my office. She was tense and clutched her purse; I thought for a minute that it looked like she might run away.

After closing my office door she began to cry and tell me the story of how she was fleeing from her abuser and how she needed to keep her and her two children safe. She was very fearful of giving me any information and asked for food, for clothing for the children and hygiene supplies. She stated that they left her former home state and had fled to Florida to be with family. She didn’t know where to go for help and just needed some clothing. She proceeded to tell me that she had left with nothing, essentially fleeing in the middle of the night. Little did she know that her cell phone was telling her abuser her exact location. She found out that he was in Ocala by receiving a text message from a mutual friend of her sister’s and he knew where she was. As soon as she heard this she had to throw out her phone.
She sat in my office crying and asked me for the basic necessities of life that we take for granted such as a toothbrush and food. My heart was broken for her, but I knew that I only had a few critical moments with her and I wanted to give her the best advice and steer her in the right directions. Thank God for community partnerships and valuable trainings that I have participated in. I was able to supply her with a domestic violence prevention packet- that came with a safety plan. I went over the important phone numbers and directed her to help through the victim advocates office. I also went over the information on how to obtain a restraining order and put her in touch with Monica Bryant who I knew could help her. I also completed an ACCESS application with her and a referral to the medical clinic at the Centers as she was worried about being out of her depression medication. I explained the patient assistance program that they have there to assist with psychotropic meds for those that do not have insurance.
Our Kinship Navigator assisted me with gathering food, clothing, bedding, and hygiene items from our Resource Center for her and her children. We brought the items out to her and the kids and she thanked me. I asked her if she felt safe and knew where to go, who to call and how to keep her family safe and she answered with a simple, “yes”. She then leaned over and hugged me with a sigh of relief. I said a quick prayer over her as I hugged her, because that is just me, but I knew that I would probably never see her again.
What I did know, is this, I gave her vital information and directions from our community partners and the Family Violence Prevention Program to keep her family safe. She has numbers and people to call that will help her. She now has a referral to the Centers for her medications and resources from the Resource Center that will make a difference at tonight’s dinner table. She has bedding and clothing. Her children have pajamas to sleep in tonight. She has a little glimmer of hope in a fearful place.

I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my part. I am thankful for a job that allows me to serve others and to do my part.