Sometimes, a sprinkle of rain becomes a torrential downpour. When you’ve got no umbrella, it can feel like you’re drowning. That’s what happened to Laurie Malter, a young mother living in Shaler.
Laurie left an abusive relationship when her daughter, Alexis, was two, and moved in with her supportive parents because she received no child support. Shortly thereafter, Laurie’s father lost his job and her mother was diagnosed with cancer, enduring aggressive chemotherapy and a surgery that left her blind in one eye. Laurie herself suffered from severe back pain due to untreated scoliosis and degenerative arthritis. Laurie’s eyes darken as she remembers those difficult times. “When it rained, it poured from a heavy cloud for two years,” she says.
The family’s forecast was grim, and Laurie was desperate to provide for her daughter and help her parents. Alexis was due to begin school soon, the cupboards were bare, and the checking account was empty. Then, through friends at her congregation, Laurie heard about North Hills Community Outreach. Soon Laurie was able to supplement her food shopping with items from the food pantry. NHCO put her in contact with the CAP program for help with her heating bills, and when she was having trouble getting food stamps, we put her in contact with an agency that could be her advocate; her application was approved. She needed $300 to pay for child care, but NHCO helped her with emergency funds. Because of her recent back surgery and her need to work, she says, “I really needed help with child care, and my mom needed a break.” Alexis started Kindergarten with new clothes, a new backpack full of school supplies, and a big smile, thanks to NHCO’s Back-to-School distribution.
Laurie enrolled in the Family Savings Account program at NHCO. Putting money away for a car enabled her to focus on a potentially sunny future. “The savings account was a huge help with helping me get on my feet and get my goals oriented,” Laurie says. “After having Alexis I really wanted to better myself and make positive changes for her and me.” Laurie made a five-year plan and a list of goals. She got a drivers license, put herself through school to become a medical assistant, and graduated with a high GPA despite having a learning disability.
She had surgery and had to learn to walk again. “Now we own our own home, have vehicles that are paid off, and I have my degree. My life is finally where it needs to be. I can’t thank everyone at NHCO enough for their support.”
Laurie is still recovering from back surgeries she underwent two years ago to remedy her scoliosis, so she finds it painful to walk or stand for more than short periods. She recently started a new job that is less stressful on her back, so now she can work for longer periods of time. This past summer, she celebrated her wedding to a man who treats her and Alexis with respect and love. Despite her setbacks, Laurie maintains a positive outlook.
When her husband’s grandmother recently passed away and left them a small inheritance, they decided to donate some of it to NHCO.
“I feel so blessed from the help I got here at North Hills Community Outreach.” Laurie says, “I’m getting back on my feet. When that happens, I want to start helping others.”