May 26, 2016 - 10:25am -- Anonymous

An unforeseen change in circumstances can throw any family for a financial loop, especially if they experience more than one unexpected setback. Last year for Natalie, being thrown for that loop nearly meant losing the rental home that she shared with her 10-year-old son, despite her best efforts to regain stability. 

After losing her job twice, Natalie decided to approach employment from a different angle. Instead of seeking a temporary fix, she enrolled in a local workforce development program that enabled students to learn entry-level job skills in four growing fields, including patient care. In pursuit of a more stable professional path Natalie earned her State Tested Nursing Aide (STNA) certification, and, after successfully graduating from the program and passing the state exam, she secured a job as an STNA at a local nursing home.

But for Natalie and her son Joshua, her new career didn’t bring immediate stability to their family. The gap between her previous employment and starting her new job left her unable to make her monthly rent. “I don’t have a big support group, so if I’m not paying my rent, the rent is not going to get paid,” Natalie said.

That’s when Susan Colbert, the OSU Extension, Franklin County Community Development director, connected Natalie to the lift she needed. Having taught Natalie in several OSU Extension, Franklin County educational classes over the years, Susan was familiar with Natalie’s situation and work ethic. Through the Gifts of Kindness Fund, she was able to connect Natalie with a one-time, life-changing grant, designed to assist individuals who are experiencing an unexpected hardship. Thanks to the grant, Natalie was able to stay in her current rental home until the earnings from her new STNA job kicked in. OSU Extension, Franklin County is one of more than ten nonprofit partners that Gifts of Kindness collaborates with to identify deserving families and distribute the one-time grants. According to Susan, OSU Extension, Franklin County has connected nearly 50 individuals to Gifts of Kindness for assistance.

“The grant had an impact on me and Josh,” Natalie said, noting that staying in the house also meant staying close to both her son’s school and her new job at the nursing home, which was just a short distance away. As part of the assistance, Natalie was required to complete OSU Extension, Franklin County’s Financial Literacy workshop, a series of money management classes.

Now that she and her family are more financially stable, Natalie wants to continue her education to become a licensed practical nurse in the hopes of eventually becoming a registered nurse. In the meantime, she volunteers with LifeCare Alliance’s Meals on Wheel program as a way to honor the importance of giving back to others. “There’s a lot of kindness in the community of Columbus,” Natalie said.


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