12/05/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Election Day Inspiration from a Woman on the Brink

What a difference a month makes. In September I wrote about Debbie in A Thousand Dollars Away From Homeless, and thanks to the generosity of many of you, strangers to us both, the critical $1,000 was raised so Debbie and her family could pay their September rent in order to avoid eviction and certain homelessness.

Unfortunately, like the US economy, one bandage of a bailout won't stop the bleeding. Unlike the US economy, Debbie needs a lot less help and is, arguably, a much worthier cause.

Despite their best efforts, Debbie and her husband have had an uphill battle searching for jobs. After a year-long job hunt and twenty years' experience in hospital administration, Debbie's husband -- the primary household earner -- has been unable to gain employment in his field. As "Plan B" he's enrolling in truck driver's school. It's not ideal work, but it pays well. Plus the longer he tries finding a hospital job with no success, the dimmer the general employment prospects become.

The good news is the truck driving school had a last-minute opening in its nine-week session starting November 10. Even better, her husband applied for and received a grant which will cover tuition, books and materials. But there's a catch (why is there always a catch for those who can least afford it?). He needs a physical exam, new glasses (eye site with glasses must be 20/20) and is required to pay for his own background check. All totaled $400, and all by November 10. For a family like Debbie's long in the hole just to pay the rent and buy food, there just isn't anything extra even for obvious necessities like this.

As it is, the truck driving school is seventy miles from their house. Classes run Monday through Thursday. Debbie's husband plans to stay close to the school during the week, sleeping in the car to avoid an expensive and time-consuming daily commute, which will save considerable gas money.

It floors me that only four hundred dollars stands in the way of Debbie's return to stability and the looming gulch of homelessness once again. It's not fair, and I can't -- won't -- let it happen even if I end up again having to help her myself.

With the presidential election over and campaign fundraising efforts exhausted, I for one hope charitable capital is freed up for the average "man on the street." Joe the Plumber, there but for the grace of god go you and I.

Still I doubt we'd have been able to come this far and maintain the faith and strength that Debbie inexplicably voices even now. So, it seems only fitting that on this historic Election Day I share with you her final message to me. If this doesn't inspire you, I can't imagine what will.

"Almost two years ago my life was pretty normal. My husband and I were working, supporting our own family, and doing what we had to and were supposed to do. I sat on my sofa watching a political rally and for the first time in my life, choked up listening to a candidate. It was hard to explain what I was feeling but Obama reached into my heart and soul and touched both; he showed me what this great country was all about. From that day forward I decided I was going to give every ounce of effort I had in me to help this man win the White House and bring people back together.

Shortly after that we lost our jobs and my life was falling apart inch by inch, day by day. My husband and I rolled up our sleeves and decided we were not going to crash without a fight. We were going to do everything within our own power to lift ourselves back up. We knew it was going to be a tough road ahead; less meals, fewer things, a lot of cut backs and pain and suffering along the way. But Obama If nothing else gave us hope for our future, something we had to hang onto no matter how hard it got.

As of yesterday morning my husband and I felt like the stock market - one day up and the next five down. We felt we were at the point of crashing all together and at the end of our road the way we once knew it. Hope seemed to be fading as the one last thing we had to hang onto was sliding away. We hung on by any thread this time, even longer than we'd hoped because people stepped in and helped us along the way. They gave us a chance we didn't have. But with so many people feeling the pinch in these hard times, my brother's keepers had all they could do to hang on themselves. We came to an understanding that if the rich were feeling the pinch and with so many jobs gone, what hope was left for us?

We sat and talked and thought November was going to be it, we would be hit and hit hard and there was nothing we could do. We would keep trying and trying but sometimes you just have to accept the facts.

Then I watched Obama's thirty-minute TV commercial and once again I sat on my sofa and tears rolled down my face, reaching into my soul, renewing my hope and giving my heart a jump start with the spark of belief that yes we can we can make it, we will make it. My hope once again has been restored even in the darkest hours and after the rough month we've had. I know a lot of people are walking in my shoes, but I don't know if enough people are. Sometimes even the rich feel the pinch but not to the degree that they have to give up meals or have their power turned off, on the edge of being homeless. So for them it's easier to believe the lies and not see the world the same way.

All I can do is pray that Obama wins. Even if he wins I know my nightmare won't be over right away. It will still be a tough road ahead but I know my future will be brighter. If he doesn't win I know my future is pretty much gone. But as long as I can walk and talk I will always take Obama's words with me in all that I do and all that I try to do.

May God be with us all on November fourth."

(If you'd like to help Debbie, the easiest way to donate is by sending money via PayPal to Or, contact me for other options.)