Stories of Resilience
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9
When we think of the people in our community who come to North Kent Connect to utilize our services, these images come to mind:
- A spunky, elderly woman living on $960 a month… using our food pantry for the fresh vegetables that are so costly in the supermarket.
- A loving dad juggling three young children and a job… enrolling in the Family Promise program because he became homeless after his wife left him.
- A single mom raising children in a 660 square foot, 2-bedroom apartment… seeking encouragement to enroll at the community college to provide more for her children.
Others may call them “poor.” We like to use other words to describe our clients. Tenacious. Tough. Decisive. They bend but do not break.
We admire our clients for their reservoir of inner strength. For their ability to bounce back. Read on to hear about Teresa. She was resilient in the face of adversity, like so many people we serve every day.
One of the biggest challenges our clients face is staying in their home. For many, 50% of their paycheck is going toward rent or mortgage. More than 100 new households registered at NKC in the past four months, tripling our usual enrollment. Most days are jam-packed.
At North Kent Connect, we walk alongside our families, assisting them to overcome obstacles in their path to move forward. We connect them to resources – healthy food, clothing, case management, housing, mental health services, job skills – so that they can succeed in life.
At some point in your life, you may have hit a low spot and needed a little help to get back on your feet. Our clients are resilient. They could just use a boost now and then.
Will you be the boost that helps them move forward and into a better year?
Thank you and God bless you for your generosity.
Teresa’s new normal
What would you do if everything you knew suddenly changed?
Eighteen years ago, Teresa Schissler-Boichot was walking down the sidewalk when a drunk driver hit her from behind. She flew 30 feet, suffering extensive bruising and whiplash. In that moment, Teresa’s whole world changed.
Barely able to hold her son born just a year after the accident, Teresa was in constant pain. She spent years meeting with doctors unable to offer her any relief. Finally, the Mayo Clinic diagnosed her with permanent nerve damage. Doctors said she had the body of an 80-year-old at 31.
“My kids are 19 and 17 now and they’ve never known me as an active person,“ says Teresa. “When they were little, they would want to dance. I could maybe do that for about 30 seconds and then I had to sit down. Before the accident, physical activity was my stress reliever – rollerblading, going to the gym, and playing softball. It just ended one day.”
Teresa left a high-energy career in engineering when the pain became too much to endure. She found a new calling guiding low-income and older adults through insurance options, igniting her passion for inspiring people through their unique situations, some similar to her own.
“The hardest part of recovery is mental,” Teresa admits. “I was really upset by the woman who hit me. I was dealing with all the medical bills, the pain, the life changes. I had to find a new normal.”
Fueled by her own experience navigating the healthcare system after her accident, Teresa is a critical resource for our clients. She visits NKC several days a month, walking them through complex applications for Medicare and Medicaid, calling insurance companies on their behalf to resolve issues, and following up by phone or at their homes when needed. Teresa is unfailingly patient, listening to clients’ frustrations when applications are denied, always staying positive, and restarting the application process.
“I’m able to minister to a lot of people in this job,” says Teresa. “Whether their situation is finding
affordable Medicaid, getting Social Security, trying to get back into the workforce after an injury, or just looking for a way to afford benefits as they age, I can figure out what they need to make things better.”
At North Kent Connect, we know Teresa as someone who goes above and beyond to help people find the right solution. Whether it’s extra prescription coverage, food cards, transportation, dental coverage, or other cost-saving benefits, she knows firsthand how connecting people to resources contributes to their mental and physical well-being.
Teresa is like many people we see every day, finding the strength and resolve to move forward. She is resilient.
Volunteers – Our Silent Heroes
North Kent Connect employs 18 staff members, but it takes many more dedicated people to provide critical resources to familes in northern Kent County.
Nearly 200 volunteers minister to our clients by helping in the pantry, stocking food or thrift store shelves, tending our community garden, delivering meals, packing food boxes, and so much more. They often work closely with clients, supporting and encouraging them forward. And many have their own stories of resilience.
Ray began volunteering at NKC more than 25 years ago. After being diagnosed with esophageal cancer, Ray asked the Lord to heal him, and in return, he would volunteer for the rest of his life. Ray was healed and has been at North Kent Connect ever since!
“My classmate, Chiara Howard, passed away in Lake Michigan when she was 9 years old. Not only was she 2 weeks before her 10th birthday, but she managed to save her younger sister in a rip current. She was just a little third grader who left this world as a hero.”
“After reading about how Chiara wished to have a career where she would be helping people and how selfless she always was, during every day of her short life, I made the decision that I want to also learn how to put others before me. I thought maybe I could help myself by helping other people. So, the whole time I am volunteering at North Kent Connect, I’m always reminded that I do it because of her and for her family. Chiara’s spirit lives on in me.”
“Why do I volunteer at NKC? It’s quite simple! It gives my life purpose. Just as NKC gives clients help with basic needs and a ‘hand up’ out of their struggles and circumstances, volunteering gives me a ‘hand up’ also from my struggles with boredom and depression. It fills some of my days with purpose, camaraderie, physical exercise and a sense of being needed, valued and appreciated. I look forward to helping in any way I can with food service programs and keeping the warehouse neat and organized. I call it my job and I love my job! Thank you North Kent Connect, for all the purpose you bring to my life!”
Thank you for your continued support! We wish you a very Merry Christmas and many blessings in the coming year.