published Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Neediest Cases helps Chattanooga family pay rent, electric bill


by Naomi Jagoda
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    Raquel Hidalgo sits in her office at the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults. Hidalgo is handling distribution of Neediest Cases funds.
    Photo by Jake Daniels.
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Neediest Cases Fund

Chattanooga's Neediest Cases Fund serves clients of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults. The fund is administered by the Partnership to fulfill client needs that cannot be met through traditional funding sources. Donations are tax deductible as permitted by law. You can donate online 24/7 at timesfreepress.com/neediestcases.

Bratasha Bowers likes to cook healthy foods for her three children.

"For one, it's a lot cheaper [than going out to eat]. Two, it's better food," she said.

Bowers, 30, prepares items including chicken, pork chops, green beans and mixed vegetables, and her kids, ages 9, 11 and 14, will eat it all.

"My children are not picky," she said.

And thanks to help from the Neediest Cases Fund, Bowers was able to keep her lights on and provide home-cooked meals for her family.

For about two years, Bowers' family has been part of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults' Building Stable Lives program, said Raquel Hidalgo, their former caseworker who now oversees the program. Building Stable Lives helps people become self-sufficient, she said.

"We help people long-term get on their feet," Hidalgo said. "We get them to a point where they don't need us,"

In March, the Partnership helped Bowers by paying her electric bill of $158.52 through the Neediest Cases Fund. At the time, Bowers was working at Food Lion and her husband was out of work.

But because Bowers had back problems and suffered from headaches, she had to stop working and left the job in June, she said.

In August, the Neediest Cases Fund paid $150 to help with Bowers' rent at their Rossville home.

In November, the fund paid another electric bill, Hidalgo said.

Bowers' husband recently started working again as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant.

"It's helped a little bit," she said, though not a lot.

Despite their troubles, the Bowerses remain "just a very nice family," Hidalgo said.

Bowers said she appreciates the work of the Partnership because without it many families probably would be out in the cold now.

"I think it's great," she said.

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