A former administrator at a local nonprofit helping some of Seattle’s poorest residents, Michelle is very familiar with the services that exist for low-income families. But Michelle never thought she would need those services until she suffered a devastating accident in 2012 that left her permanently disabled. With a broken neck, collar bone, severe spinal damage, and a loss of vision in her right eye, Michelle suddenly found herself unable to work, without an income, trying to raise her two children on her own.
Michelle struggled through intensive rehabilitation and training, eventually regaining enough skills to get back on the job hunt, despite her physical limitations. Applying for work also gave her a very necessary form of temporary income, unemployment benefits. But December 28, 2013 ended emergency unemployment benefits for over 25,000 Washingtonians, including Michelle. Any money she had to pay her utility bills evaporated with the unemployment benefits, and in early January 2014 Michelle submitted an Emergency Energy Assistance application to Byrd Barr Place, hoping to stave-off disconnection.
With a daughter still in high school and a son completing his general education requirements at local community college, Michelle is so thankful for the $250 she received in Bridge the Gap funds. This money allowed her to maintain her electricity so her children can continue to study and do well in school. With no local family to help her in hard times, Byrd Barr Place and other nonprofit agencies are stepping in to help Michelle rebuild her life and maintain her independence, honoring her years of service to the community by supporting her in her time of need.