Friend is nearly blind, jobless, losing home. Resources?
August 6, 2012 11:47 AM   Subscribe

My friend, near Atlanta, GA, is nearly blind with cataracts in both eyes. She is jobless. Her house is in foreclosure, and I have just discovered that it will go up for sale on the 4th. She's completely isolated, and has no transportation. Family is not a viable resource.

Everything indicates she's in a deep depression. She's been unable to help herself for a while now, and I have no idea what to do. I live 2,000 miles away, and don't have financial means to help.

I am thinking she could sell the contents of her house for some money, but she needs help with that.

She needs assistance. She needs somewhere to live. She needs surgery, so that she can get a job.

What resources and agencies can help a person who cannot help herself right now?
posted by moira to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would try the United Way--they tend to be pretty well connected with other service non-profits. Here's a link to the Atlanta chapter. Best of luck to you and your friend.
posted by smirkette at 11:52 AM on August 6, 2012


She needs to get with DHS.

Here is a resourse as well although I don't know too much about it.

The Salvation Army may be a good starting point.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:57 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by availablelight at 12:01 PM on August 6, 2012

To follow up on Ruthless Bunny's comments: Although your friend is likely eligible for benefits (either Disability Insurance (DI) or Supplemental Security Assistance (SSI) from the Social Security Administration, SSA will not provide a social worker. However, a social worker or similar person from a nonprofit or state or local government agency will likely help her apply for those benefits.

I think the best way for you to help is to call a bunch of Atlanta-area agencies (like the ones recommended above, or listed at the Atlanta United Way's online list of resources, or some on this list, like National Federation of the Blind of Georgia or the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless, which also works to prevent evictions) and ask them if they can help. If they can't, then ask for referrals to someplace that can. Repeat as necessary. Good luck.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:18 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

As someone who is engaged to a social worker, I would just like to say that social workers exist for (among many other things) exactly this sort of situation. There are several great suggestions here for organizations that might be able to provide a case worker who could help your friend, and that is the direction that I would be looking. You are not in a position to personally provide all the help that your friend needs, but you might be able to hook her up with an organization that can serve as a pathway to that help.

She will need to have (or develop) a high tolerance for bureaucracy and to be willing to be both patient and persistent in the face of what no doubt seems like (and may well be) a serious crisis situation. It is easy to feel in situations like this as though there is nowhere to turn, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. However, resources do exist to help her and a good social worker will help her find those resources and guide her through the process of obtaining them.

One thing that will help is if your friend can approach her social worker, when she finds one, with a list (ideally a prioritized list) of her short- and long-term goals. Something like: "The most important thing right now is that I have a stable place to live. The second most important is that I have a stable source of income to cover my basic needs. The third is to find a way to have my cataracts removed so that I can see again. The fourth is to find a job so that I can be self-supporting." Again, a good social worker will be able to help her build this list, refine it, and break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks that will allow her to keep moving forward, not lose hope, and accomplish her goals.

It will be helpful if you are willing to be a source of support for your friend. It sounds like she may not have many other people she can turn to. It is important in these times that while you do your best to be supportive and helpful, that you remain her friend rather than trying to become her counselor. She needs someone who treats her like an equal rather than a burden, even if she needs a counselor too. You cannot be both.

Good luck to both of you.
posted by Scientist at 12:37 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check out United Way's 211 service. I don't know what area she's in, but have her try calling Buckhead Christian Ministry; if they can't help her, they can refer her to someplace that can. Be aware that it may take several tries to get through.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:01 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

If she's religious (or even if not), you could call churches in her local area.
posted by kellybird at 4:03 PM on August 6, 2012

Response by poster: She needs a phone for people to contact her. Is there a way for me to buy and send a phone for her, all set up with some sort of pre-paid service?

Are there organizations/people that might help her with packing/selling her household items? Would that mainly fall in the realm of religious assistance? (She's athiest.)
posted by moira at 11:32 AM on August 7, 2012

Sure. Just get a phone and set it up so you're the legal owner (and bill-payer) and set it up so all bills go to you. Then mail it to her. You can set it up so that it automatically refills the balance when she uses up the amount on the account and notifies you, or you can set it up so that you have to authorize refills. There are many plans. Check out or repost that as a separate question.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2012

Are there organizations/people that might help her with packing/selling her household items? Would that mainly fall in the realm of religious assistance? (She's athiest.)

I wonder if the Salvation Army would be able to help? I'd imagine that they get that sort of question frequently. Otherwise, the United Way should be able to help you figure out who to contact about packing and selling items. Some places might do that kind of work already, or they might create a special project for their volunteers.

To answer your unstated question, her beliefs shouldn't matter to churches/organizations that are helping her. Buckhead Christian Ministry, which I linked to above, doesn't care or ask about clients' beliefs. In my experience, churches will help even if you're not a member of the church or if you're an atheist. She may be invited to attend services, but she shouldn't feel obligated to do so.

(Unfortunately, some places--I can think of a few homeless shelters--require folks to attend a service before giving them a meal. She can turn down offers of help from those places; Atlanta has a lot of resources.)
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:36 AM on August 8, 2012

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