Early in 2020, struggling with both physical and mental health issues and no heat in her Lakewood home, Christine sat down on her couch and prayed.
“I asked God, ‘Can you please get me to somewhere I can get some help?’ It was all I could think of to do. I was heating my house by turning on the oven.”
The next day a card arrived in the mail with her name on it. It was from Rebuilding Together South Sound, a local nonprofit who provides repair assistance to low-income homeowners. Rebuilding Together came to Christine’s aid, and recommended contacting Pierce County Human Services because they could help provide her a new heating system. While that was being set up, Rebuilding Together South Sound went to her house to evaluate her needs. They subsequently provided new porches and toilets, as well as fans in the kitchen and bath and a new energy-efficient refrigerator.
In October, when Christine’s water heater began leaking, Rebuilding Together and Pierce County both had constraints that prevented them from helping, so Rebuilding Together’s program director reached out to Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s Aging in Place program. With Christine’s permission, they sent her qualification paperwork to Habitat. The project moved quickly and Christine received a new water heater within days.
“It was such a blessing. I was afraid to shower!” says Christine, who had been sopping up water from the leaking heater for weeks and boiling water on the stove to avoid running her hot water.
Christine says it has been difficult for her to ask for help. “I worked from the time I was 17 years old while going to college and did everything on my own. I held bookkeeping jobs for small businesses. I had my last job for nearly 20 years.”
Her deteriorating health forced Christine to stop working. The pandemic made things worse. Though she receives social security disability, it’s not enough to keep up with the repairs her aging home requires.
As with all Aging in Place projects, a small percentage of the job cost is required of the homeowner. But, having recognized Christine as a volunteer who has come with Rainier View Christian Church and understanding her budgetary constraints, Habitat made a benevolence request of the church on Christine’s behalf. The church immediately approved the request, providing Christine timely assistance.
“I love them so much!” exclaimed Christine when she heard the news. “I miss going to church.” Due to high-risk health conditions, Christine says she hasn’t been out much and has been nervous to attend church in person. “I watch the livestream every Sunday. I send acknowledgments of what prayer does for me. But it’s not the same as being there.”
With tears in her eyes, Christine expresses her gratitude for everyone who has come to her aid—Rebuilding Together, Pierce County, Habitat for Humanity, and Rainier View. “I was always the secret Santa,” she says. “Now I’m the person where Santa comes to me. I’m so grateful. I know it all comes from God.”