Donna is a single parent of five children (she says “four children and one adult child”) that includes two toddlers, two adolescents and a college senior. She grew up in the mid-cape area and has lived on the Cape her whole life, moving to the outer Cape when she was getting divorced. She formerly worked as a bookkeeper and got her bachelor’s degree through a program at Cape Cod Community College. The births of her two younger children took her out of the workforce, and just when she was ready with childcare, the pandemic hit, and her divorce became imminent.
Donna represented herself in the divorce for several reasons she did not enumerate, and it certainly took its toll. “After the difficult divorce depleted my energy, I was hospitalized due to stress”, she says, “My family stepped in and said, ‘this isn’t you, please get some help, you’re not coping in your usual way’. This gave me the opportunity…the need… to figure out a way to ask for assistance. I had no idea how or where to go to ask for help.”
“I had paid off all my debt by this past summer but then I was hospitalized again, my debt climbed back up and my ex-husband took advantage of my fragile state. He continued to make things difficult with the custody of our children,” Donna said.
She discovered Outer Cape Health Services’ Community Navigator program, which matches people in the community with services that they need. Donna tapped into their program and found Lower Cape Outreach Council. LCOC has helped with rent to get her family back on track and has given laptops to her middle children so they can keep up with schoolwork. She has spoken with Gennie about a grant for a QuickBooks certificate so she can return to bookkeeping and work from home.
Donna says, “The opportunity to support Lower Cape Outreach Council in any way means everything to me. Gennie is no-nonsense and cuts right to the heart of the matter. She finds every resource she can to support families. Having that connection and relationship has been important to our family’s mental and physical health.”
Her next step is to stabilize the custody relationship with her ex-husband. After that, since her youngest two are now enrolled in school, her goal is to get to where she can provide for her family on her own. Self-care, keeping and finding friendships (like the instant connection with a new neighbor who is in the same boat as Donna) and keeping practitioners in her life. “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so you can help others”, she joked.