All programs have rules and regulations to ensure that people are receiving the services they need, but the rules don’t always capture the “human” factor, and there are exceptions to every rule. Camille M. was one of those exceptions.
Two years ago Camille had a good life. She and her husband, baby-boomer parents in their early 50s, worked full-time. Their daughter was just starting graduate school, and their son lived at home. But 18 months ago, Camille’s world began to crumble when her husband died. As she was just starting to recover from the shock of losing her partner and the father of her children, Camille’s daughter was diagnosed with terminal cancer in March 2013. She lived only 7 more months, before passing away at the end of November 2013. With no health insurance, Camille racked up thousands of dollars of medical debt, forcing her to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In addition, she needed to use her available resources to pay for her daughter’s funeral. Taking care of her utility bills was the last thing on her mind when she received a disconnection notice from Seattle City Light.
Only weeks after her daughter’s funeral, trying to get back to her job as a dispensary technician at a local medical clinic in order to have any type of income (even though half of it is being garnished for her bankruptcy case), Camille received a phone call from Centerstone’s Energy Assistance Client Advocate Molly Smith and found out she didn’t “qualify” for federal Energy Assistance, because Centerstone cannot take into account income that is being garnished due to bankruptcy. Yet again, this was another agency designed to help people that was turning away those in the most need, she thought, as she hung up the phone.
But help came through for Camille. Due to generous Bridge the Gap donors, Camille received $250 in Bridge the Gap funds to prevent her disconnection from Seattle City Light. In the darkest time in her life, Camille found a glimmer of light to help keep her and her son going. “It is just a blessing,” Camille whispered between her tears when informed of the anonymous donors who made this possible. “Thank you so much. I really, really needed it.”