Melissa and Chad McDaniel were nearly $2,000 behind on rent when the eviction notice arrived.
Months earlier, Chad had been laid off from his job as an auto mechanic, and Melissas hours at a local retail store had been cut.
Married 13 years, the Dawson County couple suddenly realized they had nowhere to live and no financial resources.
We only had two days to find another place to live or we would be homeless, said Mrs. McDaniel, the mother of four children ages 10 to 15. I thought, this cant be happening to us, but then I realized it could happen to anyone.
Nearly overcome with stress and worry, the family first planned to put everything in storage and move into a motel, which Mrs. McDaniel said would be better than living in her car. As a backup, they discussed moving in with Melissas family, but her familys small home would not accommodate a large family.
This is the only time weve ever been in a situation like this, said Mrs. McDaniel.
Then a social worker at her daughters school suggested she contact the Dawson County office of Ninth District Opportunity.
The mission of the Ninth District Opportunity is to act as an advocate for families in need in Northeast Georgia. The goal is to help get families back on their feet by providing access to opportunities for self-development, self-reliance, and self-determination, according to NDOs website.
Before I met Alice, Chad and me had never sat down and worked out a budget, said Melissa. She was referring to Alice Williamson, Dawson Countys Ninth District advocate.
Once Williamson determined the McDaniel family was eligible for assistance, arrangements were made to pay a security deposit and the first months rent on another home for the McDaniels. Next, the power was turned on and a propane tank filled, thanks to NDO. The organizations policy dictates that payments be made directly to service providers, not to the families themselves.
That was such a blessing because we never could have afforded all of that at one time, McDaniel said. We also received energy assistance, which helped us save money for food and the next months rent.
The good news for the McDaniels is that Chad has found a full-time job in his field, and Melissa is getting more hours at work.
Its interesting to look at how much money we bring home and look at our bills, and car insurance, she said. Because we stick to our budget, we are even saving $75 a month now.
McDaniel gives much of the credit back to Williamson.
Alice was very supportive and told me to hold my head up high, McDaniel said. She was very respectful. She said that everything was going to be all right. And, she was right.
The biggest life lesson she learned, she said, was to never be too proud to ask for help.