When a person is faced with challenges, it is often easier to collapse under the pressure than to rise above them. For Kelly of Huntington Station, despite the tragedies she’s faced, she knew she had to stay strong for the most important people in her life – her four children.
In 2012, Kelly was on a charter bus traveling upstate when the driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed the bus. Following the accident, she had to undergo years of physical therapy – half of her face was paralyzed, she temporarily lost of the use of her right arm, and she developed a stutter.
“One of the hardest things I had to accept after my accident was how it affected my kids, and me as a mother,” said Kelly. “There were a lot of times that they had to make a bowl of cereal themselves because I couldn’t cook, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – basic things.”
As the years went by, Kelly’s physical limitations improved, and she felt that life was finally returning back to normal. “During the period after the accident, there was a lot of hard times,” she remembered. “But through the hard times you get closer as a family, and then eventually the hard times get better and better. I got stronger and the kids forgot about the bad times. Then…my dad died”.
In 2016, Kelly’s father suddenly passed away, and the positive progress that Kelly and her family had made was once again thrown into chaos. Closely following that, their family dog died, and Kelly realized the toll that all of this loss was having on her children. She reached out to United Way of Long Island partner agency Family Service League for help.
“When my dad died, I was the one who handled everything, I didn’t get to really feel what was going on, I was just on autopilot. In life, you stay strong as a defense mechanism to get through the tough times, but there comes a time when it comes and floods in. This was my moment. I’m very grateful to Family Service League, because they’ve mended us back from the confusion and not understanding how to handle and talk through things.”
Following those volatile months, Kelly’s financial situation became unstable and she found relief through United Way of Long Island’s Project Warmth, which provides one-time grants to utility companies on behalf of families struggling to pay their home heating bills. “I’m so grateful for Project Warmth because I know my children are going to be warm. The fact that the stress of that is gone, it means so much. It helps me be a better mother, to be able to focus on other important things.”
“The best person in the world is my mom,” adds Kelly’s 9-year-old son Mason. “She’s caring, she’s helpful, she’s generous, she helps people in need. I want to be kind and thoughtful like her, I want to help, it makes me happy when I get to help someone else”.
“To me, United Way is amazing because in life, a lot of bad things happen to good people. It’s refreshing that there is a person, and organization, who can help you through those rough times,” Kelly concluded. “Throughout the years, I have made it a point to donate, as well as give time to others. It’s a very humbling experience to be at a point of needing that help and receiving it, but the best thing of all is that my son has learned the importance of helping others, and now he wants to give back too!”