Ellen’s Story

Ellen was supremely thankful that she no longer was living in a nine foot by 12 foot repurposed garden shed—with no bathroom or kitchen—when the Coronavirus, COVID-19, found her in March. She had been living in the shed for three years before she was lucky enough to “win the lottery” on an affordable first-floor apartment. She had qualified for two different units but chose the first floor apartment, over the third floor, in deference to her two bad knees and multiple past surgeries. This apartment meant that she would no longer have to worry about staying warm and safe in the winter, nor have to go to the main house for the bathroom and kitchen.

So, after 26 years of living in Provincetown, Ellen and her rescue cat Charlie moved into their permanent spot in mid-February. They have both had some knocks but are a resilient team. The local Council on Aging assisted her with the complicated and exacting paperwork. The Lower Cape Outreach Council provided one month’s rent, more than she had asked for or expected. She needed to provide first, last and security deposit and said she was “touched that they [LCOC] gave me a whole month when I had said that I would be grateful for any amount.”

Then, four weeks after move-in, she got a mild case of COVID-19; but with a history of pneumonia and bronchitis she and her doctors were worried. She recovered after a couple of weeks but then had a slight relapse and ran a fever for two more weeks. She has recovered completely now and is so thankful for food delivered from the local soup kitchen where she has volunteered for 21 years and where she is known for her delicious cookies. Lower Cape Outreach Council continued to provide groceries. One of the first extra thing she requested once she was feeling better was sidewalk chalk so she could leave thank you messages to those who helped her.

Ellen has worked seasonally as a museum docent for the past five years and so depends on unemployment from November to May to augment her year-round social security income. She is glad to be conveniently located within walking distance from a grocery store. Since she has no car this is indeed a bonus.

“The LCOC is helping so many people. They still call me every week to check in and see if I need any food. They are incredible and truly go above and beyond,” Ellen says with an emotional hitch in her voice. When asked what does the help from LCOC meant to her, she answers, “It meant I could stay in Provincetown, one of the most special places on earth, without losing my independence or having to borrow money from friends or family. My mother always drilled into me ‘neither a borrower nor a lender be’. I could stay in the community that is, along with the soup kitchen, my second family and where people take care of each other.”

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