It’s easy, especially during the holidays, to look around and think about everything we don’t have. We can easily get caught up in what we can’t afford to give our loved ones. However, by appreciating all that we have, we find that life rewards us.
Both Jennifer Davis and Leah Kirchhoff know this well. And both women have Naperville Cares to thank for the help they received.
Davis, 42, a DuPage County resident living in a domestic violence shelter since October, is grateful to be out of an abusive situation. While she is from Illinois, her husband moved her to Michigan where she worked three jobs, and he stayed home with their child. Davis didn’t realize it at the time, but he was isolating her from people when he began to spend all his time at her workplace to keep an eye on her.
Life began to fall back together when she returned to Illinois and found out the shelter she sought refuge at was less than a mile from her best friend’s house. And the Taco Bell around the corner was run by the same franchise she worked for in Michigan, giving her the reference she needed to get a job there.
But without a car in the suburbs, it was difficult for her to work more hours. Her son Eddie, 11, had to be with her at all times at the shelter, which meant she could only work while he was at school. Her friend offered to take care of him so she could work until close, but she had no way to pick him up and get back to the shelter.
On Dec. 9, Davis was a recipient of one of eight cars donated to Naperville Cares from Continental Motors Group.
“This car is going to help me to explore so many opportunities,” Davis said. “I still look out the blinds of my room at the car and say ‘thank you.’ It’s going to set things in order for us.”
Kirchhoff’s situation was different. She moved to Naperville and found out she had to pay a $150 security deposit to the city to have her electricity turned on. As a dental assistant, she had enough money to pay for her move, but this last piece wasn’t feasible with her other expenses.
“I live on my own,” said Kirchhoff, 30. “I don’t have anyone else to do things for me. I’m not sure what I would have done otherwise.”
While she began thinking about which bills she could forgo for the month and go without groceries for the week, she learned about Naperville Cares and received help with the $150 deposit.
Maria McTarnaghan, the program manager at Naperville Cares, worked with Kirchhoff and said her situation isn’t unique, especially in the current economy.
“It’s one thing — a car repair or a security deposit — that really makes a difference,” McTarnaghan said. “We were able to help her stay on her feet.”
Seeking help often can be the hardest part, as Kirchhoff knows.
“I love to try to help people even if it’s giving $5 to the guy outside Walgreens so his family can have dinner,” Kirchhoff said. “Lots of people are struggling way worse than I am. People shouldn’t be embarrassed. That’s what (help) is there for.”
For Davis, she knows that all is going to work out just fine, and the car was just another step in completing the puzzle. Next is getting an administrative receptionist job, and finding stable housing for her and her son.
“Life is hard,” she said. “When people have hurdles, they want to go around it, but it’s best to go head on. There isn’t anything in life that is impossible. My son and I are going to be A-OK.”