Success Stories

Denise H

Arlington Thrive proved to be a lifeline at the right time for Denise. Because she believes so strongly in our mission, she has asked us to use her real name. Here’s her story:

Denise moved to Arlington after working at the same social services job for over nine years in Minnesota. Grieving for her boyfriend, a US Army soldier who was killed in Iraq, she initially intended to take a “break” for a year or so. She chose to come to the Washington area because her boyfriend was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

About a year later, Denise was ready to find a new job, but an unexpected health issue changed that plan. Just 40 years old, she detected a lump in her breast. She went in for her very first mammogram and was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer.

“At the time, I had no local friends, no job, no family in the area, sketchy month-to-month private insurance, and not much savings left,” Denise said.

Because this happened before the Affordable Health Care Act took effect, Denise’s insurance company would no longer cover her. Fortunately, her physicians and Virginia Hospital Center were willing to write off her extensive medical bills, which eventually included two surgeries, four rounds of chemo, and 33 daily radiation sessions. 

Even after she had eliminated any extra expenses from her budget, including cable, internet and telephone, she struggled just to pay her rent and purchase food that would aid in her recovery. 

Two months after completing her cancer treatment, and after applying for countless jobs, Denise finally found a job. Unfortunately, because she would not get paid for several weeks after her start date, she didn’t have enough money to pay her rent. Then the Virginia Hospital Center directed her to Arlington Department of Human Services (DHS) and Arlington Thrive. With only $150 left in her bank account, Denise was able to get $1000 of her month’s rent paid by DHS, and the remainder (approximately $400) was paid by Arlington Thrive.   

“I have gone to school or worked, other than a few brief periods, my entire adult life. If you had told me there would ever be a point where I would need public assistance, I would not have believed you.  I was not the kind of person who would ever need it. Until I was.  It was the most terrifying, helpless, humbling experience I have ever gone through,” said Denise. “People wouldn’t necessarily believe me when I said it, but running out of money was much more stressful than having cancer ever was. My doctors would ask me to discuss my stress levels and stressors, and I would tell them that cancer was not even cracking the top five anymore.”

Today, Denise is a Program Manager for the Department of Defense and is able to pay her bills on her own. She credits Arlington Thrive with helping her get back on her feet again.

Your financial support helped keep a grieving man from losing his home.

Mr. Adams (name changed for confidentiality) is a 74 year-old resident who requested assistance from the Department of Human Services (DHS) Aging and Disability Services. He had multiple health issues, including diabetes and a heart condition. Also, he was dependent on an oxygen tank. Mr. Adams had fallen behind on his rent because of unexpected expenses related to a death in his family.

 Arlington County social workers helped Mr. Adams to obtain a housing grant and to make an application for Virginia Medicaid. Medicaid would provide him with badly needed additional insurance coverage for his medical needs. His County social worker asked Arlington Thrive to help pay for part of his May rent. With help from the County DHS and Arlington Thrive, Mr. Adam’s disposable income increased and he avoided eviction from his apartment where he had resided for 15 years. Without the partnership of Arlington Thrive and Arlington County DHS, Mr. Adams would not only be grieving the loss of a family member but would be homeless as well.

Thank you for helping Doug pay his gas bill and reinstate his service.

Arlington resident, Doug (name changed for confidentiality) has a cognitive impairment, but it didn’t stop him from getting a job with a small landscaping business. However, even with full-time employment, his income didn’t stretch far enough to pay his Washington Gas bill in full. When he could, he would send $25 toward his bill, but his partial payments were inconsistent and eventually his service was cut off. When that happened, Doug requested assistance from the Community Assistance Bureau (CAB), who turned to Arlington Thrive. We were able to help Doug by paying $595.61 toward his past bill so he could have his gas service reinstated. Along with the needed financial assistance, Doug was counseled on how to budget his income and expenses to ensure this won’t happen again. Doug was truly grateful for both the short-term funding and the counseling that will help him in the long-term. 

Like many of our clients, Emily faced a crisis and needed emergency assistance to prevent a more costly health catastrophe.

 Emily (name changed for confidentiality) moved out from the house in which she was living with her emotionally and physically abusive husband. As a result of the physical abuse Emily endured, she experienced severe dental trauma that required multiple rounds of dental work. The total cost of the necessary procedures, after a generous discount from the dentist, was over $3000. Even with the reduction in price, finding this amount of extra money in Emily’s budget was impossible. After hearing Emily’s story, Arlington Thrive generously agreed to provide the entire amount necessary for Emily’s dental work. After the dental work and resulting improved appearance, Emily is more confident in her ability to find employment, support her family and maintain her independence.

Thanks to you, Michael was able to pay to restore his power and keep his family safe and warm in their home.

Michael” (name changed for confidentiality), a single father of two young sons, has been unable to work for almost two years because of kidney failure. Following a kidney transplant, he was unable to make regular electric bill payments. Michael went to the Arlington County Community Assistance Bureau to find out about community resources that were available to his family, as he always made his sons his first priority. It was not until the power had been disconnected that he came to request utility assistance. Thanks to generous and loyal donors like you, Arlington Thrive was able to pay the bill to get Michael’s electric service restored that day so that he and his sons were not left in the dark and cold.