As the new year dawned, single mom Heidi Ehli was also starting a new chapter in her life. She and her husband had recently separated. She and her two sons just moved closer to her mother so they could all be more present in her life to help her out.
Facing new challenges
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit and introduced shelter-at-home regulations. Until recently, Heidi worked two jobs to try to make ends meet — a house-cleaning business by day and elder home-care at night. Now people don’t want someone coming into their homes anymore to clean. She says, “It’s been a very big challenge having my income more than cut in half.”
Heidi originally took the nighttime home-care job thinking that she could sleep during the day while her sons were at school. But now that the schools have shut down, that’s not working out so well. “And I come home and then I take care of my kids and try to get the schoolwork done,” she says. “And continue to be a nice mom and to work on myself too.”
Part of that work is recovery work in her 12-step program. Even that’s changed in the time of COVID-19. Now those meetings happen virtually, which helps, but hasn’t felt quite the same.
Heidi supplements food for her family through donations at the local food bank. And she came to pick up a Family Emergency Kit at the Church of the Living God in Tacoma, Washington. The kits include enough food to feed a family of five for a week along with essential supplies such as paper products and cleaning supplies.
Full of gratitude
Wiping tears from her eyes, she says to the kit donors, “What I want to say is thank you. It makes such a huge difference. It makes a huge difference in my life. I’m full of gratitude.”
The Family Emergency Kits allow her to use the money she would have spent on food to buy gas or even shoes for her sons. She explains that the previous day she noticed that the soles on the shoes of her son, Timothy, were completely worn out. She asked if he’d been dragging his feet as he rode his bicycle. He said to her, “No mom. My shoes are just wearing out. I didn’t want to tell you ‘cause I know things are tight for you.”
She finds it ironic that just as she was getting stability in her own life, the community and the world feel very unstable. But still, she finds herself feeling gratitude above all.
“By the grace of God, I’m not going without anything. I do have enough, but I’m stretched to the limit. I’m stretched to the limit, which makes me a stronger person,” she says. “I’m walking in faith each and every day. I feel like I’m carried.”