Scott and Syleinia Summers wanted a fresh start, so they and their two girls, ages 3 and 5, moved from Conyers, Ga., to Colorado Springs a few months ago.
Syleinia would be able to live near her mother, and Scott thought the altitude would help him with his multiple health problems, including severe arthritis.
But upon arrival, the retail job Syleinia had lined up fell through. Scott, who is 26 and permanently disabled, is unable to work.
“It was scary moving 1,700 miles and having no income or place to live,” said Syleinia, 25.
The Summers moved into Syleinia’s mother’s one-bedroom apartment, where the family sleeps in the living room.
Scott’s health problems require his taking six medications, and though the family has health insurance, his monthly prescriptions still cost around $200.
That’s when Syleinia went to Ecumenical Social Ministries, which besides helping families with medical bills provides food, housing, job placement and educational programs for needy people. ESM is one of 15 area charities receiving grants from The Gazette-El Pomar Empty Stocking Fund.
The Summers asked ESM to help them pay for two medications. ESM said it would cover all of the medications.
“Tears rolled down our faces when they told us that,” Syleinia said.
Colorado Springs’ high altitude has helped Scott’s arthritis, and recently Syleinia got a job as a housekeeper, so the family’s financial situation is improving.
But there will be few Christmas presents this year for the children.
“The girls don’t mind,” Syleinia said. “They know the holidays are about family and cooking in the kitchen. We’ll give them a couple educational gifts. I have not raised greedy children.”