Senior receives help and hope – a beacon of light in the storm

Most envision themselves enjoying some well-deserved rest after decades of working hard. Brenda’s retirement came with a rocky beginning, though.

“I didn’t expect my life to take a turn the way it did,” Brenda said. “I had just retired, but then I had a stroke, so my daughter asked me to come and live down here [in Georgia]. So in 2014, my brother moved down with me from Kentucky, but we fell on hard times. 

“Money went out the door fast, and when I looked in my fridge, I was down to basically nothing.”

While her kids offered Brenda help, she felt she couldn’t keep leaning on them financially. She needed another option.

It was at 12Stone church that Brenda found out about a place just down the road from where she was living that could help her: StreetWise. After calling to make an appointment, Brenda chose to see one of StreetWise’s client advisors, which turned out to be just the encouragement she needed.

When you walk into a place that asks about your finances it can feel [embarrassing], but they don’t make you feel like that. They greeted me with such love and respect.

“I sat down to tell my story, and it broke my heart. I just started crying,” she said.

“I’m the type who tries to take care of the whole world. I was trying to get my brother to go to rehab – it was a mess. I felt like I was by myself. But God has always been there, and [the advisor] was so nice and caring; it touched my heart.”

Not only did Brenda receive food, but she also got other essentials – clothing, shoes, and toiletries – from StreetWise, not just for herself but for her daughter and grandchildren, too. Plus they prayed for and with Brenda, giving her hope in the midst of her struggle.

“Every time I went to StreetWise, they prayed with me – and that prayer affected me when I was so low,” she said. “The volunteers were so nice. They didn’t have to give up their time, but they did.”

To Brenda, the inspiration and encouragement of the volunteers she met made a lasting impression. In fact, it made her want to give back her time to serve others, too. 

“I knew the Lord had me retired for a reason, but at first I was happy doing nothing,” Brenda said. “Then I lost six family members during the pandemic, and I had all this time to myself. I felt I needed to give back to the community more than I was [so I wanted to volunteer at StreetWise].

You never know what to expect in life, so you just have to have a heart of giving.”

Unfortunately, life once again threw a wrench in her plans. Last year, Brenda had to heal from two back surgeries and a neck surgery. And this February, she finished her last radiation treatment.

“I was just so excited to volunteer, but [the staff at StreetWise] told me ‘Don’t worry about it – we’ve got a spot for you; you just get better’,” she said. 

Now that she’s recovered, Brenda has been able to start helping others by serving at StreetWise, just like she’s wanted to do for years. And reflecting on her journey, she sees StreetWise as an integral part of where she is today.

“I was at wits end, because I was on social security – it was hardly anything. We could’ve ended up on the streets,” Brenda said. “StreetWise was a beacon of light in the storm. They saved my life, honestly.

“[To those who volunteer] Thank you so much for the words, the food, and the kindness.

“[To those who donate] Give whatever you’ve got, because StreetWise will help people – I’ve seen and been a part of it. They don’t mess around; they’re there to help.

“[To those who need help] Streetwise is just a beautiful place. They serve everybody with a smile and always have a kind word to offer, and they can give a hand to help you up.

Thank you, StreetWise: for bringing me into your little family!”