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Uplifted By Love

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After Hurricane Ike, my house was a disaster. I had problems getting my diabetes supplies and had to come up with a hospital bed. I had lost the back door to my house and the front door was severely damaged. The Jesse Tree hired a contractor to build a frame and brought used doors to put on my house. The sink in my kitchen was no longer usable; they also helped by putting a new sink in and working on the plumbing. The Jesse Tree Diabetes Coach, Bette Cowan, helped find a new sink on the internet. The kitchen counter was rotten, so they re-did the kitchen of my house. Then they installed an air conditioner and also installed a few doors between the rooms of the house - from the kitchen to the bathroom and I was able to efficiently use my living room and bedroom so I could keep my place cool. Before Ike I had screen doors that were lost during the storm. While attempting to make my residence habitable, I discovered the dilemma that as a renter I was ineligible for FEMA Assistance. The house is a garage apartment that was not insured.

Prior to Ike I was employed by the local Cruise Terminal and able to support myself financially. After Ike the docks were so damaged that Cruise Ships could not return for six months and my income disappeared. I was denied FEMA support because I was a renter I could not qualify for their assistance.

The emotional and physical impact that I had to overcome was that I ended unemployed and I am diagnosed with diabetes and congestive heart disease. The Jesse Tree was assisting me with regular food boxes and extra boxes at that time and military rations were coming from other recovery units and the nutritional value was not meeting the needs because of my health condition. Having to eat these kinds of foods (MRE’s Meals-ready-to-eat) I ended with high level of fluids which affected the congestive heart failure, and I was not able to continue to work for that purpose. I applied for disability and needed the food boxes and medical supplies from The Jesse Tree to survive. I started receiving Medicaid, but although my check was supposed to be around $778 dollars, because of state regulations the check was only $550 dollars because I receive State benefits. All of this put me in a very difficult living situation that I was now faced with having to come up with arrangements for paying bills. I was facing chronic medical conditions with long term disability plus stress factors and had to rely on The Jesse Tree for holistic support in my personal recovery - indeed, in all aspects of my personal well being.

They provided the diabetes test strips and a blood pressure monitor so that I could self-monitor my conditions and I regularly participated as a student in the different diabetes programs at The Jesse Tree. Also, they provided a new walker and ongoing support through case-management for the various needs that arose during this last two years of my life. They also provided support for my medical prescriptions.

The major benefit is hard to describe, but in a word it is restored health and peace of mind. With limited resources The Jesse Tree has done a terrific job to support me in ways I could never have imagined – that I didn’t even realize I needed. They really knew how to coordinate all kinds of services and support from food, shelter, medications and all the additional services to support my overall well being.