A Story About Cathy, a Member of the CAC Family
By Cindy Hallen
A CAC Volunteer
Originally a teacher for the deaf, I am now the area staff person for an international cultural exchange program, Au Pair in America. I began my work at CAC as a VITA volunteer during the tax season of 2012. At the end of that time, I didn’t want to leave! The program was such a good use of my time- I am just too busy for "busy work", and CAC staff is efficient, warm and appreciative. Since then, I have come each Thursday, talking to men and women individually regarding their needs in the way of food and clothing.
If there was one thing I would tell people who are not familiar with this sort of organization, it would be that there is an incredible amount of diversity in the type of people who visit the CAC for food, clothing, and financial assistance. Young and old, some have been homeless, while some have been sales professionals whose pay was based on commission during the recent challenging years. We serve mostly Americans, some single and some with large families, and a wide range of international residents who are most grateful for our help.
My first year, I met Cathy. Cathy had a contagious smile. Cathy and I clicked right away. Our kids were the same ages and our interests were the same and we just hit it off. I learned that she had worked her way through nursing school earning her RN while raising 4 boys who were at the time in high school and college. She had left her husband for, shall we say, legitimate reasons, and was looking forward to a new life-- then suddenly she was taken by surprise- she had stage 4 non-smokers lung cancer. She was currently on an experimental drug which was working, but she had been told that it would not work forever. When it quit working, she would have about 3 months to live.
Her main goal was to leave her boys, who were themselves paying off school loans while one was still an undergraduate, debt free. She was paying off all her medical bills by cleverly selling the things we would give away when we downsize, on E-bay. She lived on disability and the help she got from the Community Assistance Center.
Being weak but very industrious, Cathy made special arrangements to help out in our Thrift Boutique when she came for her food each week. Giving back was very important to her, and CAC was where her friends were. We were her friends.
We lost Cathy recently. She made her own funeral arrangements through a volunteer friend she made at CAC. Tamara, her CAC friends and I were at her memorial service. She was a delight to know. She was like family-- part of the CAC family. It was our pleasure and honor to help out someone like Cathy in her time of need. Thanks to all of you who, by supporting the CAC, supported Cathy-- and everyone who walks through our doors.
Helping Families Stay in Their Homes
Dan and Donna had a new baby boy last winter. They also struggled to stay in their home. Donna was put on early maternity leave with no pay. Dan, a construction worker, lost 2 months of work due to harsh winter weather. Both returned to work in March, but faced mounting
utility bills and no cash for rent. CAC gave them emergency assistance to help pay their rent and avoid eviction. We gave them food from our Pan
try and helped them apply for food stamps so they can stretch their dollars further. We also put them in touch with two other agencies for additional assistance including help with utility bills.
Education for Successful Living
Daniel found out about Community Action Center's Adult Education Program from a flyer at his church, Apostles Church of Sandy Springs, one of CAC's member congregations. He has attended English as a Second Language classes at CAC for two years. Although already a U.S. citizen, this Iranian native often comes to the citizenship classes to practice his English and learn more about his new country. Daniel also had his taxes prepared for free at CAC through the IRS VITA program. "I appreciate the kindness I find at Community Action Center," says Daniel. "It is not easy to learn other languages. My improved English has helped me a lot in my job working with customers.”