Written by: Kari Sanders
The year was 1997. My husband and I had moved to Riverside, California, so that I could pursue a graduate degree. The financial end of things did not work out for me, so I left the graduate program and started looking for a job. Even with an engineering degree, the process took a over month and a half. So, I was frequently home during the day while my husband was at work and met Christine- my neighbor.
We shared a balcony, but little conversation. One afternoon, Christine poked her head in to ask if I could help her fax a resume. I agreed – I could have told her about the library resources at the school or other places, but I decided to invite her over. We worked on her resume together, wrote a cover letter, and I helped her fax it from my computer to several potential employers. As a thank-you, she made me an ice cream float, and we spent some time talking on the balcony.
During our first, more personal, conversation, Christine told me about who she had come to Riverside after running away from an abusive relationship. Her husband had been abusive to her, and she was concerned he would become abusive toward the children. One day, they had an altercation in which she was threatened with significant harm. She packed up the kids while he was out of the house and traveled from Oregon to California. She and the children spent several nights in a women’s shelter until she could get the apartment in Riverside.
Today, I am not in contact with Christine, but her story stayed with me. Her story reminded me that it doesn’t take much to turn your life upside down – what happened to her could happen to anyone. I learned that a hand up combined with a lot of determination is all that’s needed to get life back on track.
I believe the work Denver Rescue Mission does is extremely important for our community – they are one of the places determined people who just need a hand up can turn to when it seems all other doors have closed. I want to help ensure that the organization is always there – for the people who need it, for people like Christine, for people like those I knew growing up who struggled – and, one never knows – maybe even for me someday.
Thank you, Kari for sharing your experiences! If you’d like to share your experiences about being a good neighbor, please submit a short essay to Aneta Storvik, AStorvik@DenRescue.org.