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  • Monica, Communications Intern

Hear from one of our Graduates!

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Merriah Dotson, single mother of two, initially reached out to Family Promise of Orange County in 2019 when an illness left her unable to work. She and her children were battling homelessness off and on for over four years. Merriah was able to graduate into permanent housing from our Emergency Shelter Program the same week the pandemic shutdowns began in the United States. She and her family have now been in their own apartment for almost a year.

Recently we spoke briefly with Merriah on how the pandemic has affected her family and how Family Promise of Orange County has been able to help.

Family Promise of Orange County: Tell us about the week you moved into your apartment right as the pandemic was hitting. How has the pandemic affected you and your family?

Merriah Dotson: The week when the pandemic was hitting, we had luckily already secured housing and were already moving into our own apartment on March 18th. Everything happened so fast and fell into place because of Family Promise’s help. By March 20th we were all moved in and had a home where we could quarantine safely. In a way, the pandemic has been a blessing. We are approaching a year in our apartment and have already been able to renew. Everyone in my family has their own room and we even adopted a new dog to join our family.

FPOC: How was Family Promise of Orange County able to help your family during this time?

MD: Oh wow. Lets begin with the food distribution we were having and supportive services. That was absolutely amazing. Such a huge help because at the time food stamps were not giving extra help and I was not on unemployment. During this whole year Family Promise or Orange County had been there every month with supplies like gas, food, groceries, etc. Even helped me with car repairs and was especially supportive the week when my mom passed away.

FPOC: What is something that Family Promise of Orange County did that stood out to you?

MD: They actually helped me get my car through 1-800CharityCars (a Family Promise partner). During the process, I had to write an essay and out of four other families I was chosen. Family Promise of Orange County assisted me with finding the organization to get this car.

FPOC: What would you like to say to the volunteers, supporters, and staff of Family Promise?

MD: Cyndee is just amazing, Alexis is amazing. There are so many people at the churches and different congregations that impacted my children's lives. Even though we are part of the graduate program we still give back to Family Promise. For me Family Promise is not just an organization, it’s a family. From me personally and my children, thank you to everybody. Keep doing what they do. They change lives everyday. They made a huge change to my life. I want to thank Cyndee for letting my emotional support animal stay with us during the shelter rotation . She stuck up for me and found the way to let him stay.

We are so happy that Merriah and her children are doing so well after such a difficult 2020 for everyone. We are always thrilled when we can keep in touch with our graduates!

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