published Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Neediest Cases Fund provides step to independence

Elaine Bradway, lead case manager for the Crisis Center at the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, carries toys that were donated to the center through the 2011 Hamilton County Toy Run.
Elaine Bradway, lead case manager for the Crisis Center at the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, carries toys that were donated to the center through the 2011 Hamilton County Toy Run.
Photo by Alex Washburn.

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. To donate, a coupon can be found on Page B5. You also can donate online 24/7 at timesfreepress.com/neediestcases. All contributions are acknowledged in the newspaper.

A woman, clean and sober for seven days, came to the shelter in search of refuge from her abusive boyfriend.

There are rules, shelter manager Elaine Bradway explained. You need to follow those rules if you want to live here.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, didn't like the idea of rules. But if it meant she could escape the man who had been sexually abusing her, then she'd comply.

Over the next six months, Bradway and the other case managers at the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults' Crisis Center showed the woman that she could take care of herself, that she could live on her own and not rely on an abusive boyfriend.

In the early days of her stay at the shelter, the woman balked at the lessons.

"One day, she said, 'I can't do this. I don't know why you think I can,'" Bradway said. "She was afraid of not being able to care for herself."

In November, Bradway wanted to prove to the woman that she could care for herself. She requested money from the Chattanooga Times Free Press Neediest Cases Fund to pay for the woman's first month of rent at her new apartment.

The Neediest Cases is a donation-based fund established by the Times Free Press and administered by the Partnership to provide support year round to people who have no other place to turn.

Each year from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, the Times Free Press asks readers to donate to the Neediest Cases fund. Hundreds of people contribute; some donations are as small as $5 and others in the hundreds of dollars.

Partnership case managers use the money donated every year to pay for eyeglasses, dentures, utility bills, space heaters, or such as in this case, the money can be used to pay rent.

The case managers who sign up clients for Neediest Cases help keep a special eye out for those clients who will best benefit from the limited money, according to Cassie Womack, Partnership development manager.

Bradway's client hadn't used crack, marijuana or alcohol in six months, and she was ready to start a new life, Bradway said. So with the first month of rent covered, the woman paid her apartment's deposit and started a $10-an-hour job cleaning at a nearby hotel.

"It was very difficult for her to trust that she could do it on her own," Bradway said. "It takes one step at a time. Domestic violence can make people feel like they have blinders on."

Working with domestic violence victims, Bradway has learned how to help people.

"You learn to listen and sound like you're in control," she said. "I'm very passionate about helping people through difficult times, and I'm able to stay calm in crises."

The other case managers who have worked with her point to the same qualities as reasons why Bradway is able to help clients, whether through Neediest Cases or day-to-day counseling.

"The shelter position is a very stressful job, and some days I don't think I could make it through the day without her," caseworker Taninica Few said.

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