When my daughter and I became homeless, my coworkers stepped up to help me out. Their kindness changed my life.
By Tammy Rabideau,2023-05-28
- Over 20 years ago, my daughter and I became homeless when a friend kicked us out of his apartment.
- My coworkers fixed my car so I could drive home to Wisconsin and gave us some extra cash.
- Their kindness in my moment of need taught me a lesson I'll never forget.
On a chilly December morning, I arrived at work to an email from the friend I was staying with.
"I'm putting your stuff outside the apartment right now," it said. "I'm sorry, but you and Kristil can't stay here any longer."
My mind froze and my heart started beating rapidly. My 6-year-old daughter and I were living with a friend in Denver. I wasn't on the lease, was a thousand miles from home, and knew no one in the city besides my coworkers.
In a panic, I dialed my friend's number. We'd had an argument the night before, but nothing I thought we couldn't work out.
"I'm sorry, but my decision is final," he said.
I felt my composure slipping as the receiver went dead.
My coworkers helped me when I felt like I had no one
A voice pulled me back to reality.
"Good morning, how are you today?" I glanced up from my desk to see Dick, one of the sales guys I worked with whom I'd gotten to know over the past several months. I quickly filled him in.
"I'm getting kicked out of my apartment right now, and I think I need to go back home to Wisconsin, but I don't think my car will make it. The brakes are bad — " I rambled on.
Dick calmly interrupted. "Hold on — don't leave yet. I'll be back in just a few minutes," he said.
I was shocked to have ended up in this place
It had all started a year earlier when I was living in Madison, Wisconsin. Kristil's father was in prison serving a 10-year sentence, and I was struggling to make ends meet. We'd moved in with my mom until I could save money and find us our own place, but that plan fell apart quickly when her landlord said we couldn't stay.
While I frantically looked for places to go, I talked to a friend who was living in Denver.
"You and Kristil should move here. I have plenty of room," he said.
Three days later, we arrived in Denver. Within a few weeks, I started working as an administrative assistant at an energy company. That's where I met Dick — a gregarious guy who right away made me feel welcome.
They helped me make a plan, and it changed my life
While waiting for Dick to return, I called my mom to tell her what was happening.
"You girls need to come home ," she said. "I have a new landlord. You can stay here as long as you want now."
As I hung up, Dick reappeared at my desk with two other guys — Rusty and Ray. I glanced up at the three of them.
"We have a plan," Dick said. "Rusty's going to take your car and look at your brakes. You, me, and Ray are going to your apartment to get your stuff. What do you say?"
Astounded by their offer to help, I couldn't get my response out quickly enough. "Yes," I said.
A few hours later, just after we'd unloaded my stuff in the Cooper warehouse, Rusty returned with my car.
"You're all set," he said as he handed me the car keys. "I fixed the brakes and checked your fluids and tires."
I could hardly contain myself; I was in such shock. I leaped out of my desk chair and hugged him. "Thank you," I said.
A moment later, the branch manager, Frank, called me to his office and handed me an envelope. Inside was a collection of $600 taken up by the guys in the office and two hotel vouchers for places Kristil and I could stay on our trip back to Wisconsin. Overwhelmed by his kindness, I felt tears well up in my eyes as I hugged Frank goodbye.
That night, Kristil and I met Dick and the others at the warehouse. After we packed our belongings into boxes that the company offered to ship back to Wisconsin for us and a grateful but teary-eyed goodbye, Kristil and I were on our way.
Two days later, we were back in Wisconsin. I found a new job, and within a couple of months, I had saved enough money to move us into our own place. We lived there for the next two years.
It has been over 20 years since we became homeless in Denver, but I have never forgotten what Dick and the others at that job did for us. They not only came to our rescue in a difficult time but also restored my faith and gave me the strength to keep going. Kristil went on to attend an Ivy League university and now lives in Paris. I still live in Madison.
A few months ago, over lunch, a friend and I discussed a mutual acquaintance who was going through a rough time. The problems facing this person were complex, and my first reaction was that it seemed best not to get involved. After lunch, however, something felt off. I realized I'd momentarily bought into a paradigm I actually didn't believe in — that my help wouldn't be enough. I had a sudden change of heart, and decided to borrow some money to help her pay rent. After all, I knew better; I had long ago learned the powerful influence one person could have on the life of another.Read the original article on Insider