Why We Do What We Do

“Susan”, a 65-year-old woman, had always been the one to take care of others, including her 40-year-old son who was bedbound due to a medical disability. When PHP’s Family Service Advocate met Susan, she was frail and tired. She had the will but physically could no longer care for her son while her own health was quickly deteriorating as well. Susan was apologetic for asking for help but felt she had no other recourse. She had a very limited support system, no other children, and was private about her situation.

Susan had limited income from her freelance bookkeeping jobs and received Social Security benefits on behalf of her son.  Unfortunately she could not work more due to the specialized attention her son required.  Her monthly income was insufficient to get mom and son through each month.  She did not have health insurance and paid cash for medical costs. She had some savings but that was quickly depleting.

Susan needed help to pay her utility bill after receiving a shut off notice. PHP’s Advocate conducted a thorough assessment of her needs to not only resolve her immediate request, but to also identify other issues needing to be addressed.  She had fallen behind on her rent and carried a balance each month.  After a great deal of discussion, Susan concluded that she could no longer care for her son, which would also reduce her income, leaving her further in debt.

PHP enrolled Susan in their Food Program and delivered groceries to her home. In addition, PHP staff helped her apply for CalFresh, and the benefits she received allowed her to purchase additional food.  PHP also enrolled her in Medi-Cal, which retroactively paid many of her outstanding medical bills minimizing the debt hanging over her head. Next, PHP partnered with St. Vincent de Paul from Mission Santa Ines to pay for her rent and utilities.  Upon the advice of PHP staff, Susan decided to take on a roommate to reduce her future rent costs.

Outcomes for this client are “good news and some bad news.”  Susan did her share to reduce her monthly expenses to keep them in line with her income.  With her new medical insurance, she pursued a diagnosis for her poor health.  Sadly, Susan was diagnosed with cancer but is in treatment.  She said that she had not been aware of the breadth of services individuals and families in need could access from PHP.  She never thought she would need the help but was thankful to PHP for being there to listen and help when she most needed it.