Emergency Assistance: Paul’s Place Helps Individual and Families Find Stability During Hardships

March 5th, 2018

When you meet Gary, you would never know the hardships he has endured. He looks younger than his 63 years, is quick to smile, and is eager to engage you in conversation. He describes himself as a soldier who has fought through many struggles in his life and is proud of where is right now. Gary never expected to need help beyond the support of family, but Paul’s Place has become an important resource for him since first coming in 2009.

Gary grew up in Baltimore and, after graduating from Dunbar High School, he began a 20-year career as a truck driver. He hauled products all over the Mid-Atlantic and enjoyed all of the scenery along the way. In 2007, Gary’s health declined; he was experiencing headaches so severe that he had to stop driving. He subsequently was diagnosed with high blood pressure and began treatment. Once his health stabilized, he began working again in various jobs around town, but his earnings weren’t enough to sustain him.

Gary became homeless in 2009 and lived in shelters for the better part of two years. The showers and laundry service at Paul’s Place helped him maintain some personal dignity through the very demoralizing experience of homelessness.

Late in 2010, Gary was placed in public housing and began the process of stabilizing his life. Gary works diligently to maintain his health so he does not end up in a shelter again. He has found advice and support from the nurses in our weekly Nurses’ Clinic for managing his blood pressure and adjusting his diet to improve his health. He also eats a healthy, low-salt lunch regularly at Paul’s Place.

For the last seven years, Gary has remained in stable, affordable housing. But, like many Paul’s Place guests, Gary lives on a fixed income that leaves little room for unexpected bills or emergencies. Gary has twice turned to Paul’s Place for emergency assistance with an electricity bill that exceeded his budget. Fortunately, through a partnership with the Fuel Fund of Maryland, Gary was able to get help with his utility bills in May 2016 and again in November 2017; a utility turn-off could have led to an eviction or loss of Section 8 voucher. 

Last year, Paul’s Place prevented 180 utility shut-offs and 70 evictions with emergency assistance funds – helping individuals and families find stability during hardships. For many guests, this assistance makes it possible for them to cover all of their necessary expenses without having to make difficult financial choices, such as whether to pay the overdue bill or buy food or medicine.

Gary looks forward with optimism. The assistance he has received from Paul’s Place over the years, but especially the emergency assistance with his utility bills, have helped him maintain stability in his life. Now, he is planning for the future and will use resources at Paul’s Place to find a better job.

You can help individuals like Gary pay for emergency expenses to keep the power on and their lives stable. Donate now!