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Health issues lead single mother of two to take refuge at shelter

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Medical problems led to Christy Hughes, 33, and her 6-year-old twins, Wanda and Aaron, taking up residence at the A-Way Home Shelter in Greencastle.
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of stories about the people who are living or have lived at A-Way Home Shelter in Greencastle.

The past few years have been very difficult for Christy Hughes.

"In May of 2005, I lost my job," she said. "I have insulin-dependent diabetes and high blood pressure, and felt sick and I was tired all the time, so I called in sick a lot. Then in June 2006 my dad had a massive heart attack, so I moved in with my parents to help take care of him."

Christy, 33, also moved her family -- her husband and the couple's young twins, Aaron and Wanda, in with her parents.

This past August, Christy's father died. Christy's mother, who is legally blind and lives in a two-bedroom trailer, could no longer provide a home for her daughter and her family.

Seeing no other options, the Hugheses moved into A-Way Home Shelter in Greencastle in early March.

"Things just started going south for us," Christy said, holding Aaron in her lap with Wanda lying on the floor near her feet wrapped in a blanket in the common area at A-Way Home. "We had no money coming in and I was getting sicker. My husband didn't have a job. He'd been here before and he knew it was a nice shelter."

Mere days after Christy and her family took up residence at the shelter, Christy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Shortly after that, her husband left her.

"He told me he couldn't handle me having a debilitating disease," Christy said, turning her eyes downward.

A-Way Home director Debbie Zigler said she has been amazed by Christy's resolve.

"She has been through an awful lot these past few months," she said.

Christy now has to have a walker to get around. She has been turned down twice for disability benefits, and her lawyer is waiting on an appellate date for another appeal.

"Sometimes it can be overwhelming," she said. "But I've got Debbie; I talk to her daily. The other staff members help me out, too. Really, I couldn't ask for a better place right now for me and my kids."

The twins, now 6, have not seen their father since he left the shelter.

"He'll call once in a while, but that's about the only contact they've had with him," Christy said.

Aaron and Wanda seem to have made themselves at home at the shelter. They spend their days watching television and videos in the common area, and other residents take them for walks and to the library to give Christy a break.

It has been difficult for Christy to come to grips with the fact that she cannot provide for her children right now.

"They've been through so much," she said sadly, running her fingers through Aaron's dark hair. "We lost my dad, and so many other things have changed. They've had a lot to deal with, but they've adjusted really well.

"The hardest part of having this disease is that I can't work and provide, and I've always been the one to do that for them," Christy continued. "They like to go outside and go to the park and play, and a lot of the time I'm just too exhausted to take them. I can't be that kind of mother to them. Since school's out it's been more difficult they're a little stir crazy."

Still, Christy tries to maintain her optimism and hope for the best. She goes to physical therapy twice a week and is being treated with medication. She will have an MRI in August to see if the medication is slowing the growth of the MS-related lesions.

"I have to keep going for my kids," she said. "They need stability in their lives, and I have to be the one to give that to them. My goal right now is to stay out of the wheelchair and hopefully get away from the walker."

Christy, a quiet woman with gentle eyes and a soft demeanor, still holds out some hope for her marriage as well.

"I don't believe in divorce," she said. "If he gets help with anger management and gets a job, he can come back. He wasn't looking for a job when he was here and he broke curfew, so he has to do those things before Debbie will let him come back. We're not talking about divorce yet, but I don't know if I see us getting back together or not."

Christy knows there are perceptions about people who live in homeless shelters.

"We are good people who just got down on our luck," she said. "Circumstances came up that we couldn't control. We need the shelter to get back on our feet."

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I don't understand why this woman, would allow her husband back into her family's life. He won't work, look for a job,has a problem with anger,disrespects the rules, and won't try to support his children. As long as you try to help yourself and your children, the perception of living in a shelter should be a step in the right direction. I know the state would provide counseling, educational opportunities, day care for your children while you attended classes,medical care,transportation and even HUD housing. All you need to do is TRY. Many people with Multiple Sclerosis and diabetes are productive citizens. Proper diet and exercise are helpful for both illnesses.A day in the park, a walk and talk, tossing a ball together are all free. Waiting for an MRI result is only delaying your opportunities. People that are in wheel chairs can do data entry, stuff envelopes, respond to call centers, and even become 911 operators. You need to break the cycle for your twins. Or, are you going to let the taxpayers' continue to pay your bills? Take advantage of what you have offered and have your children see a better life. Don't use your illness, or the death in your family as a crutch. People make choices!

-- Posted by pbyers on Sun, Jun 8, 2008, at 7:15 PM


-- Posted by cty-govt-a-muck on Mon, Jun 9, 2008, at 7:11 AM

That's right you cowardly man! Run off just when your family needs you the most. Abandon your two beautiful children when they need your love and leave the woman who promised to love you forever! You make me so angry!!

-- Posted by guesswhonow on Mon, Jun 9, 2008, at 12:16 PM

Wow - what a mountain to climb. Christy needs to surround herself with a supportive team of people who can help (not do for her) her and the kids rise up out of this situation-pit they're in. Based on this story, everytime she attempts moving forward, she's knocked back 8 steps. As for her self-absorbed husband who has decided this is all about him - and abandoned her and the children - -she needs to kick him to the curb....and when her life starts looking up - not let him come back to use her as his crutch and drag her back down.

-- Posted by Scripted Spontaneity on Mon, Jun 9, 2008, at 3:47 PM

Good luck to you Christy, I for one knows what it's like to be exhausted from an illness. Add the pain with it and it's all you can do to try and take care of yourself let alone two kids. As for the persons comment by pbyers (6/8/08 @ 7:15pm)"all you need to do is TRY", seems to me like you are doing all you can. Therapy two times a week is exercise. Not counting your daily rutine. Keep your faith and don't let the negative comments others make get you down. Some people are rude and greedy untill something like your situation happens to them.

Shame on you pbyers for judging this person in need. I'm sick and tired of people like you worring about your tax dollars for the people in need. You probably have lived with a silver spoon in your mouth your entire life. So quit feeling sorry for yourself, think about what you wrote and ask yourself what would Jesus do? By the way, do you have a job to offer Christy?

-- Posted by compassion on Mon, Jun 9, 2008, at 7:55 PM

To those who made their comments, I think you should have walked in my shoes. How do you think I was made aware of the resources available and became a taxpayer once again. My thoughts may seem harsh, but sometimes it is necessary to state a firm opinion. And, walk a positive road.

-- Posted by pbyers on Thu, Jun 12, 2008, at 8:10 PM

No, bad comment again pbyers. I don't think anyone had to be harsh with you for you to be made aware of resources in your time of need. You can keep your shoes, I happen to be disabled myself and no one was harsh with me in my time of need. An opinion is one thing, judging is another.

-- Posted by compassion on Fri, Jun 13, 2008, at 12:24 AM

My point has been made by your rudeness and comments. Think about that!!

-- Posted by pbyers on Fri, Jun 13, 2008, at 7:51 PM

What's wrong did your foot get stuck in your mouth!

-- Posted by compassion on Sat, Jun 14, 2008, at 12:34 AM

I'll pick it up here. I can't comment on the character of Christy, because I do not know her. From the picture though, I can tell she is not completely useless. What would Jesus have done you ask? I believe he never would have let our tax dollars go to the government in the first place for an unconstitutional cause such as a shelter that feeds, and houses almost anyone for free as long as they follow a few simple rules. This is not 'general welfare' as the constitution allows. If you have indeed read, and understand the bible, you would also understand that in a few more words than this, it also says "you don't work, you don't eat".

-- Posted by hoop2077 on Sun, Jun 15, 2008, at 1:13 AM

Another silver spoon!!!

-- Posted by compassion on Sun, Jun 15, 2008, at 2:16 PM

Thanks, hoop2070. My comments were only trying to point out all of the advantages available to Christie. She just has to TRY. I know that exercise is not only good for diabetes, but, for MS as well. My last point to "compassion" was meant help her think. If "compassion" has time to be rude on line, then why couldn't she use that time positively and help Christie with keyboarding and computers. So, she could be a taxpayer again.I hope she doesn't let her husband back in her life. It sounds as though, he lived off her and her parents and is worthless financially and emotionally.

-- Posted by pbyers on Sun, Jun 15, 2008, at 8:18 PM

I just re-read Christie's article and if a disability doctor has turned her down twice, does that not tell you about her disabilities? Who pays for the attorney?

-- Posted by pbyers on Sun, Jun 15, 2008, at 8:30 PM

I agree with pbyers. I have many dissabilities-back pain-leg and ankle problems and eye problems and I work a full time job. Some days it is very difficult but I choose to be motivated and continue to work -I had a choice and I feel better about myself by continuing to be a productive citizen and tax payer.I would not want taxpayers sending me a check every month to have no incentive to get a job. I know many folks that get that check every month and they have all the pleasures of sitting around feeling sorry for themselves.That is no life either.

-- Posted by bam on Mon, Jun 16, 2008, at 6:59 PM

Another silver spoon!!!

-- Posted by compassion on Mon, Jun 16, 2008, at 9:09 PM

It doesn't really sound like you can argue the fact that we should be paying for this kind of service. Charitys are great, but we should not be forced to pay for something like this. If we weren't taxed halfway to poverty, more people could afford to give to charity. It would all work out in the end. We didn't have this problem 95% of government ago. I don't know why you keep saying silver spoon... I sold my silver spoon to pay for gas.

-- Posted by hoop2077 on Mon, Jun 16, 2008, at 9:50 PM

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