A story of a CSBG client assisted by the Embarras River Basin Agency, Inc. serving Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Jasper, Lawrence, and Richland counties.
In June 2000, Michelle decided to divorce her husband of 7½ years after it was revealed that he had been hiding a severe mental illness. She had been a stay-at-home mother with income coming only from her in-home daycare. It was a difficult decision, but Michelle knew she had to protect herself and her children. After two years of struggling financially, she knew she had to change her life so she could support her family and fulfill her lifelong goal of graduating from college to become a teacher. After doing some research she learned about Embarras River Basin Agency, Inc. (ERBA). Though she was initially uneasy about asking for help, the ERBA staff made her feel comfortable right away with a caring, concerned, and positive attitude. ERBA was able to help her with LIHEAP to pay her heating bills, and her kids were thrilled to receive brand new school supplies through the CSBG School Supply Program. Through ERBA Michelle also received child care assistance and was referred to the Township Supervisor for help with other bills. When her sister was diagnosed with a terminal illness in May 2003, she opened her home to her, which made her budget even tighter and her schedule more hectic. Once again ERBA was able to provide LIHEAP and school supply assistance, which eased some of her financial burdens. Michelle made the Dean’s list every semester she was in school, and in December 2004 graduated from college. She is now a substitute teacher and has been offered a position as an English teacher this fall at a local school. She had no idea that she would receive so much help when she first came to ERBA or, as she says, she received an added bonus of gaining friends who helped support her through the rough times. She will no longer need ERBA’s help, but she will always remember the staff for what they helped her accomplish. Michelle is a great role model for anyone who is afraid to take the first step toward self-sufficiency.