We’ve all heard the saying that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Our recent 60-day journey with “Rose” represents an entirely new meaning for this phrase; a “Rose” of unmeasurable resilience and hope.
”Rose” was a March 2020 referral from Love INC member church Sacred Heart. Desperate for help, “Rose” wrote to churches across the Tampa Bay area, including Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Her letter explained a “great need of help”. She was disabled, being forced out of her apartment by rising rent, and in financial need. Additionally, she needed physical help to move and to store her few remaining precious items, clean her apartment and get help for her six cats! Each request came with complexity and great emotional trauma for this 59-year-old woman, struggling with obesity.
Although she is very intelligent with two Master’s degrees and enjoyed a lengthy career as a nurse, she was lost in her issues. Five years ago, her body began to react to her weight gain and her ability to work came to an end. Since then her life has been one overwhelming challenge after another that has overtaken her.
After our Love INC team of volunteers and staff met “Rose” and listened to her vision for stability, we began to build our relationship with her, seeking to address one need at a time at her direction. Soon we were in almost daily contact with her and I assumed the role of resource navigator on her Love INC journey. Helped by Love INC member church, First Baptist Church, along with guidance from many Love INC partners and friends, we began to address issues, including moving her items to storage, helping her pay for her storage unit (Sacred Heart paid) and guiding her communications with current and future landlord.
Her next journey steps were more complex, given her size, that presented many restrictions and limitations. Simply finding a way for her to shower, or a bathroom that was large enough for her, complicated every turn or avenue for help. Where would she sit, or even lay was an issue. She actually had to sleep on the floor and use an outside bathroom facility. While “Rose” was able to find a place to lay her head during this temporary situation, the severity and complexity of her needs required our referral to APS (Adult Protective Services).
Although we helped in securing her Stimulus check, we faced the reality that many of the resources needed to help her were not available due to the pandemic. In conversations with “Rose”, she shared a desire to return to her home state of Indiana and applied with an affordable living facility operated by a convent. I recognized and encouraged this sign of “hope” in directing her efforts. When she called me with challenges or situational issues, I would challenge her to put her “nurse” hat back on to trouble shoot and own her issues. Or, I would ask, “How does this help you return to Indiana?” Soon, she became more focused and her hope began to grow. She would share: “I am beginning to see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”
Together, we built a plan on what it would take to move to Indiana and God met our needs at every task. She was placed on an apartment waitlist and we immediately received notification that she was given a spot. She connected with friends that lived there and they arranged furniture to prepare her new apartment. She reached out to a past Tampa employer, who offered to drive her to Indiana. First Baptist Church helped with the financial cost of transporting her.
I am happy to say that, on May 6th, Love INC was able to present her with financial travel assistance (from First Baptist) and most importantly, personally pray with her as she endeavored to begin her journey to Indiana. Her level of hope was unmeasurable and visual. Her reaction to our departing prayer was palpable. Clearly, the evidence of the relational model of Love INC has been transformational for “Rose” on her journey of self-improvement which has and will continue to transform her life. Janet Shaffer – Love INC Help Center Coordinator