I Am Waters

Today is 04.02.2020

Homeless Veteran, Children Get Holiday Wish | Washington | The Columbian

Erica Conger stood in her living room and eyed the 3-foot-tall Christmas tree in the corner.

Four-year-old Maddox and little Ella, 2, stared at the branches of the tree as the fiber optic lights changed from blue to green to pink. The little ones plucked shiny ornaments from their plastic packaging and shoved them between the branches, unwilling to wait for hooks to hang the glass balls.

In another corner, Conger knelt and began wrapping white garland around the base of a floor lamp. She evaluated the white spiral and fastened red bows to its stand.

The 27-year-old stood, surveyed the festive living room and smiled.

“Will it do?” she asked her 4-year-old son.

“Yep. It’ll do,” Maddox replied.

“That’s the one thing Maddox asked for

for Christmas: A Christmas tree,” Conger said.

Conger had her own wish this Christmas: To have a place to call home.

And thanks to a local nonprofit — and a generous family friend who provided the tree — both Conger and Maddox had their Christmas wishes granted.

“I feel like Santa answered my wish list early this year,” Conger said. “The last thing I wanted was to have Christmas in a shelter with my kids.”

Three months ago, the 27-year-old Army veteran and mother of two lost her job and was asked to move out of the house in which she was living. Conger, Maddox and Ella moved into a local shelter with a maximum 60-day stay. As the deadline to find a new place approached, Conger learned she would have a home of her own just in time for the holidays.

With the help of Partners in Careers’ Homeward Bound program for veterans, Conger moved into a subsidized apartment in Hazel Dell for $89 per month. Her rent is based on her income, which at this point is limited to child support, plus her earnings from a part-time internship at the nonprofit Partners in Careers.

“That is a blessing,” she said. “I think I cried. I had been waiting so long to have my own place.

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via The Columbian