DailyFinance Readers Chip in to Help Homeless Mom in Camden, N.J.
DailyFinance profiled the 33-year-old widowed mother last month as part of a series of stories on "The New Homeless." Now, thanks to some generous readers, Paul and her nine-year-old daughter Alyssa are preparing to move into their own apartment.At the time our profile ran, Paul was facing a bleak Christmas. She and Alyssa were living at the Anna Sample House, a family shelter in Camden, N.J., which is the most crime-ridden city in the U.S. Paul was not only trying to scrape money together to buy a few small Christmas presents for her daughter, but she was also trying to save for a deposit on an apartment -- a difficult feat given that she had just been let go from her food services job at Camden's Adventure Aquarium.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%%
The tale of Paul's path to homelessness began with the unexpected death of her husband and, later, the loss of her job after her previous employer suddenly shut its doors. The heartbreaking story touched a chord with several of our readers. One gave Paul $500 to use for a security deposit on a place to live, another reader drove four hours from Virginia to give Paul a cellphonesince her phone had stopped working (making it all the more difficult for her to find a job). That generous person has also offered to pay for her service until she can afford it on her own.
But perhaps the most life-altering gift came from a local area landlord who offered the struggling single mother housing at a two-bedroom house he owns in Salem, N.J., about 40 miles south of Camden. Paul and her daughter will be moving into their new home on January 15. Alyssa Paul "is very, very excited" about having a place of her own, according to her mother.
Paul was worried about offending her benefactors and refused to disclose their names for this story.
Now Paul hopes to convince her former employer Aramark Corp. to rehire her in the food service department at Camden's aquarium. The Philadelphia company laid off Paul because she was so stressed about being homeless that she was distracted from doing her job. At the time, Aramark had said it would consider hiring Paul again once she worked her living situation out.
Paul said she was grateful for the kindness these strangers have shown her. "I am just utterly speechless," she says. "There are guardian angels out there for everyone."