We don’t always know when we have made a big difference in someone’s life. Sometimes we find out.
“You have improved my life beyond measure,” wrote a disabled veteran to Melissa Cozadd of CAP’s Financial Independence Center.
He was homeless, staying in transitional housing at the Longview Housing Authority, living on social security disability and a small veteran’s pension. The VFW and Housing Authority had referred him to CAP’s Building Assets for Fathers & Families (BAFF) program, where he met Melissa. The program helps non-custodial parents become financially stable, so they can fulfill their obligations to their children.
He had not been hopeful. “Going in, I had low expectations that my longstanding impediment to independent housing and self-sufficiency could be overcome,” he wrote in his letter.
His goal was to live in a place of his own, but half of his social security and pension was going to child support payments, leaving him with only $238 to live on each month.
Melissa’s first step was to help him get control of his limited finances and reduce the monthly amount taken out of his social security and pension. She worked with his case worker at the Division of Child Support. Then she and her co-worker, Tonia Berlellotti, helped him develop a budget and clean up his credit report, and began the paperwork for subsidized housing.
When Melissa informed him that his payments had been reduced and that his goal was now possible, the man began weeping in her office.
She wasn’t prepared for that. “I thought maybe I had hurt his feelings at first,” says Melissa. “Then I realized how much all this meant to him.”
In a card to her, he wrote, “I was overwhelmed and feel I was granted a great kindness. It will never be forgotten.”
In a letter thanking CAP for his help, the disabled veteran called Melissa and Tonia his “miracle workers,” adding, “I am one giant step to independent living with hopes of becoming a stronger more capable citizen.”
For Melissa and Tonia and the other “miracle workers” at CAP, it’s all in a day’s work. Still, it’s nice to know that you made a difference in someone’s life.