Two months into her new job, Gloria Walker still hasn’t told her own children about her near brush with homelessness. If she does, she’ll likely mention a St. Vincent de Paul social-services network that maintained her hope and housing when she might otherwise have been on the street at the age of 62.
“I was on the brink, looking into the abyss,” Gloria said of the four months she spent in school, pleased to update her skills but constantly in fear of losing her home. “I faced two evictions,” she said. “St. Vinnie’s went to bat for me both times and got the landlord to let me stay.”
Gloria moved to Eugene after her husband died unexpectedly. She worked in rehabilitation and mental-health facilities until 2008 when she sustained a back injury while lifting a patient. The problem was partially corrected, but Gloria’s insurance ran out and she was barely cleared for light duty. In late 2009 jobs were scarce and light duty unheard of.
Gloria qualified for occupational retraining and was taking classes at LCC when she first trekked to St. Vincent de Paul’s Social Service Office to ask for utility assistance. The staff immediately identified her as a prime candidate for homeless prevention and Self-Sufficiency Services.
An assessment by the Self-Sufficiency staff determined that Gloria’s computer skills and Spanish skills were readily marketable. It was just a matter of time. Soon after, she quickly found work.
“You have to stay focused on what you’re doing,” she said. “If that’s a job search, stay focused. If it’s housing, try as many resources as are in the community. A lot of people’s pride gets in the way, but don’t ever be too proud to ask for help. St. Vinnie’s baled me out, and they didn’t know me from Adam.”