This is Darelle’s story. It is a tale of perseverance, bringing community together, and most importantly, doing what is necessary to help those that need it most.
In late September I received a phone call about an elderly woman in distress. Darelle was 72 years old and living in her vehicle with her dog, BooBoo. Darelle’s health was questionable. She told me she had heart issues, vision issues, and leg issues that made it difficult for her to walk. The vehicle was also questionable. The car sporadically started, the heater barely worked, and it was beginning to dip below freezing at night. She was crying, desperate for help and was convinced she was going to die in her car, alone.
First, we made sure that she had blankets, a coat and food. She was not interested in going to the shelter. She was a prime candidate for housing so we connected her with a Boulder Shelter housing advocate. She was also connected to Mental Health Partners (MHP) for counseling and additional help with housing. Everything was looking good for her to have her own place before Christmas.
In late October Longmont was hit with its first snowstorm. Her car completely died around the same time. Darelle had no choice but to stay at our shelter, but what about BooBoo. We don’t allow pets so we asked the humane society for help. Normally they don’t board pets, but once we explained Darrelle’s situation they generously took BooBoo in.
We had her car towed and assisted with the repairs. That whole week we chauffeured Darelle from HOPE to The Our Center for meals, then to the library in the afternoon and back to the shelter. That weekend she was rushed to the hospital for shortness of breath connected to congestive heart failure. She was released a few hours later and taken back to the shelter. Darelle kept a sense of humor about this. It was the only way.
In December, we received word that everything was in place. She had a housing voucher and a place that met her needs that was move-in ready. And then a new obstacle. The rental background check revealed a prior housing situation that left her owing past rent. They had to pass on her.
Darelle felt hopeless. We told her that it will be difficult but the fight isn’t over. Her prior debt was negotiated down and we began the task of raising funds to pay that off. Darelle started staying with friends in Erie and BooBoo was able to join her. She began to believe again. With the help of her housing advocate, MHP, the Senior Center and HOPE, Darelle was able to find a suitable apartment that fit her budget. On March 24th, she joyfully signed her lease and moved in. I think if she were able to jump, she would.
This was a journey. There was excitement, let downs, challenges, teamwork and in the end, victory. It took 6 months, 6 non-profits and friends to make this happen. We can accomplish everything as a community, and that community includes you.