Tina was homeless and lived in her car. In May 2021, she was in a car accident. She was driving alone down an empty street at night. Another driver passed her with their high beams on. And before Tina’s eyes could readjust to the night, she drove her car off the road. She rolled down a 60-foot embankment.
She was flung from the vehicle. A hunter passing by the next morning discovered her, unconscious. When police arrived on the scene, they figured out that being flung from the car ultimately saved Tina’s life. If she were still in the car, this would have caused a more serious injury.
Tina was in a coma for four days after the accident. When she woke up from the coma, her doctors had to explain what happened to her many times. She had a concussion that made it difficult to understand what was being told to her. And she had many other injuries. She had skull fractures and broken bones all over her body. She had to spend a month in the hospital to recover.
Healing inside and out
After the accident, Tina lived with her ex-mother-in-law. She had to use a wheelchair and do a lot of physical therapy. Her doctors told her that she would need to use a wheelchair for three months– at least. But Tina couldn’t wait that long. She was escaping a domestic violence problem with her ex-husband. Since Tina was living with her ex-husband’s mother, he knew where to find her.
So Tina needed to get well enough to get out of that wheelchair quickly. Even though her doctors told her it would be three months in a wheelchair, Tina only needed one. Then she left the home where she was staying. But she had to live in her car again. This time, she had her fiancé with her. And she had a newer, more spacious car.
It was hard living in her car. There weren’t many safe places for them to park and spend the night. And they didn’t always have easy access to a bathroom. But it was better for Tina to have her fiancé with her. She wasn’t alone.
One step at a time
December came and they both knew they needed to find stable housing. Her fiancé had been previously enrolled in Goodwill’s Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program. He suggested that Tina visit Goodwill and ask for help. And she did.
She connected with the program and was on a waitlist for HEN. While she was waiting, Goodwill’s Foundational Community Support housing program stepped in to help. She and her fiancé got approved to move into a home in February.
But, as January rolled around, Tina’s fiancé took his own life. She was alone. Things weren’t easy. She had to take things one day at a time. Her fiancé’s guidance was what got her to connect with Goodwill and enroll in HEN. She wouldn’t take that for granted.
As February approached, her wait was over. The HEN program helped Tina get the stable housing she needed. She also got essential needs items like dishes, pots and pans, and a trash can. She didn’t need much because she already had things in a storage unit from her previous home.
Tina continued taking everything one day at a time, physically and emotionally. She still needed to heal her injuries from her accident. She continued doing physical therapy and getting necessary surgeries to help her mobility.
Always moving forward
Her biggest goal is to get back to work. Tina has built a career in security. Her employer regularly calls her to check in and see how she is doing. They remind Tina that when she is ready, her job is waiting for her. But she must complete all necessary surgeries before she returns. Tina hopes to get them all done in the summer and before winter comes back around.
Since getting help from Goodwill, Tina said her life is much calmer, more secure, and less stressful. “It’s really hard to get yourself out of that survival mode, thinking you’re the only one kicking in the doors. But sometimes you have to put your trust in other people” Tina said. “Walk through that front door and just ask. It’ll change your life.”
Without Goodwill, Tina said she would be hopeless and much more alone. She is grateful for the people who helped her and who listened to her. “It’s hard when you know the only person you can count on is yourself. Now you’re telling me ‘I have to count on you?’ Prove it. And [Goodwill] did. I am very, very thankful for them.”