With the onset of the pandemic, like many, Ashley, a single mother of three, found herself suddenly without an income. Here’s how she found hope.
Over the last year, Ashley Mehr, a single mother of three, finally felt she and her children were finding stability after years of not having a place of their own to call home.
In 2019, she completed her Associate of Arts degree in business administration while pregnant with her youngest child. By August, she was able to move into a subsidized apartment in Huntington Beach with her three children (all aged under 15), before securing a job as an administrative assistant with a local nonprofit in October.
But then, three months ago, Ashley received the bad news. She was furloughed from her job due to the health crisis and was initially rejected for unemployment assistance. She was suddenly without an income and had to find a way to buy food and pay for rent and utilities. “Honestly, I didn’t have enough money for diapers and food,” she told The Orange County Register. (Find the PDF version here.)
Ashley’s story is, unfortunately, not unique. The economic effects of the pandemic have led to many losing their jobs or having their work hours significantly reduced. For vulnerable families in Orange County, this affects their ability to pay rent and utilities or acquire food and other basic needs, placing them at risk of homelessness.
“There are many families struggling to meet ends right now, due to job loss or temporary layoffs,” said Susan B.Parks, President and CEO of Orange County United Way.
Orange County United Way launched the OC Family to Family Campaign as part of our Pandemic Relief Fund to specifically help families at risk of homelessness due to the ongoing health crisis. Donations to this campaign are immediately put toward a $500 emergency debit card and given to a family needing help with rent, utilities, food, and other basic needs during the pandemic.
Though $500 may not seem like much, for Ashley, it meant hope.
“I felt so relieved and grateful when I received the money [from United Way],” she said. “It gave me hope that we’ll get through these hard times, and it reminds me I’m not alone.”
You can help a family like Ashley’s by donating to the OC Family to Family Campaign!