"I could live again."

New Beginnings

Rose loves being a mom to her 11-year-old twin daughters. Like most parents, Rose works day in, day out to keep the rent paid, the lights on and her children fed. Until there was one day when she couldn’t.

“I’ve tried for so long to keep going,” she says. “It finally just all caught up to me, and I wasn’t able to make ends meet.”

Rose served in the Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007. After completing her service, she studied at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., where she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Rose was taking all the right steps in building a future for herself and her kids, all while fighting unshakable experiences from her past.

“I have been struggling with PTSD ever since being on active duty,” she shares.

She also suffers from fibromyalgia, which causes migraines that can prevent her from working for four to 15 days each month. Her conditions have cost her a salaried job, then an hourly job. She couldn’t find work that accommodated her health issues or the need to find childcare since Rose is a single parent.

When she was forced to choose between feeding her daughters and paying the electricity bill, Rose turned to the Veterans Affairs office. She began applying for assistance but, for one reason or another, was getting denied. The time she took to complete each application was time she lost in paying back her debt, intensifying an already stressful situation. Soon, she was facing eviction.

But then Rose turned to the Elks. As a veteran living in one of the eight metropolitan areas targeted by the V.A. for increased focus by the Elks, Rose was able to apply for up to $2,500 in emergency assistance to prevent or exit homelessness. Rose lives in Washington, D.C. The other seven areas are Chicago, Loma Linda, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, New York, San Diego, and Seattle.

The Elks accepted Rose's application and paid her rent. That assistance gave her the stability she needed.

“Your whole mind opens up because you’re not stressing out,” Rose says. “I was able to be a better mom. I could live again.”

Rose recalled having the gas shut off three times in a year. It cost her $700 in additional fees to have it turned back on. Those days are behind her, thanks to the Elks. She was recently accepted into the Service to CEO Program through The Rosie Network, a nonprofit dedicated to building a network of military entrepreneurs.

“I’m excited to learn how to be a successful entrepreneur around other vets who are trying to do the same thing,” Rose says. “I figured the only way I can make a dent in this world is if I work for myself.”

As a woman with unwavering perseverance, Rose plans to instill that same mindset in other women by opening an empowerment center. She hopes this can help other single moms navigate the obstacles she has faced—like finding childcare—by giving them the skills to take their jobs anywhere. She attributes the timely assistance from the Elks for affording her the opportunity to pursue this next step in her life.

“You were step one of six that got me here,” Rose shares. “There were a couple of things that happened that helped get the ball rolling, and you guys were the first ones. So, thank you very much for that.”

When asked what she would say to anyone who is considering donating in support of the Emergency Assistance Fund, Rose apologized for a lack of eloquence, then followed with this:

“I would say that you have a chance to be a catalyst in somebody’s life. It’s a butterfly effect. Why wouldn’t you want to be that catalyst or that spark?”

Her words articulate how crucial the emergency assistance is. For Rose, and hundreds of other veterans who have received help from the Emergency Assistance Fund, it’s the spark that led to a new career, a stronger home and a better life. For Rose, it’s a new beginning for herself and for her daughters.

Read more stories from the Be the Spark series about other veterans who've received assistance through the Emergency Assistance Fund here.

Since July 2015, the Elks National Foundation has contributed $4 million to help end veteran homelessness. The money funds the Elks National Veterans Service Commission's Welcome Home initiative, which includes an Emergency Assistance Fund for veterans in eight metropolitan areas targeted by the V.A. for increased focus by the Elks. To date, the Elks have helped more than 1,350 veterans exit or avoid homelessness through emergency assistance. Learn more at enf.elks.org/WelcomeHome.

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