While much of Seattle celebrated the two-week winter break from school, spending quality time with their families and enjoying a pause in the daily ritual of school, homework, and bed, for Felisha and her four children, winter break is a time of anxiety and stress. A 41 year old crossing guard and bus monitor for the Seattle Public Schools, Felisha works as much as she can to keep her family in housing and pay her bills, despite suffering from sickle cell anemia. But times are tough for Felisha’s family when school is out. As an hourly employee, Felisha doesn’t get vacation pay. To compound matters, the Seattle Public Schools took the entire week of Thanksgiving off for the first time ever, meaning that Felisha was down to only three work weeks in a six week timeframe.
For Felisha, maintaining her electricity is a matter of life and death. Her oldest son is 17 and has severe asthma, so he is constantly hooked up to a breathing machine powered by the electricity. Should she lose power, her son wouldn’t be able to breathe. Without family or close neighbors, Felisha doesn’t know what she would do to keep her power on and her son alive, except possibly pawn as many items as she could. Felisha’s 10 year old son also suffers from asthma, but fortunately is able to manage his condition with inhalers much of the time.
Luckily for Felisha, she was a recipient of $230 in Bridge the Gap funds, allowing her and her family to maintain their electricity through the Christmas Holiday, and squeeze by until she starts receiving her paycheck again in January. When informed of the anonymous donors who made this possible for her, Felisha was shocked, and thankful: “I am just so grateful,” Felisha reflected.