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Vickie, Allied Churches Resident

Written by Kyle Maher

A middle-aged woman sits at one of the five long, gray tables and stares at the small television hanging on the wall in the corner, which is showing a Lifetime movie. She only breaks her concentration to scan the front pages of the newspapers she has sitting on the table in front of her.

Seeing nothing worth reading, she carefully folds the newspapers and places them back on the table to focus her attention back on the drama on the screen in front of her.

The woman, who was reluctant to have her name published and asked to be identified only as Vickie, sits in the rectangular back room of Allied Churches, a facility for impoverished residents in the Burlington Community to come to be fed and housed while each finds her way.

She was reluctant to share much of her story, but over time became less guarded and opened up about the unfortunate events that have led her to lean on Allied Churches for support while she continues to get closer to getting back on her feet.

Vickie's story, as it turns out, is like so many others in her position.

She doesn't have to worry about where her next meal will come from, like so many others have had to since the community's soup kitchen, Loaves and Fishes, closed, because Allied Churches supplies her with all the food she needs. It allows Vickie to focus instead on steadying herself and getting back all that she's lost.

After having a steady job at a storage company in Western North Carolina, Vickie was let go. It was then that she decided to re-locate to Burlington in order to find another opportunity for employment.

The search was difficult. She didn't have a car, or support from her estranged husband or her family, who stayed behind in western North Carolina.

After three long months of searching, during which time she was forced to move out of her home and find refuge at Allied Churches, she landed a job at a local storage company, and has worked there ever since. Hopefully, she says, she can get her home back down the road.

"I want to get my old house back," Vickie said. "But I can't right now. I'm going to have to save up my money and hopefully I'll save enough to move back in at some point."

The problem was, in her eyes, that she didn't have a viable source of transportation and struggled to get out in the community and find a job. To her, the reason so many in the Burlington community struggle to make ends meet is because there isn't enough public transportation.

"It would definitely help," Vickie said, her frustration evident in her facial expression. "It's tough because we don't have a way to search for anything that's outside walking distance because we don't transportation and not many available jobs are around here."

If, she says, buses were available for those at Allied Churches to use to search for employment, tenants wouldn't have to go to such lengths to find a company searching for workers.

"Buses would've made my search a lot easier because I could have covered more ground and gone to more places each day," Vickie said. "The buses don't come by here enough but if they did it would be a lot easier."

For right now, Vickie knows that to get back on her feet, she'll have to continue to rely on Allied Churches for assistance while she settles in to her new job and saves up enough to get her house back.