A Grateful Heart – A former guests’ story

Posted on Sep 23, 2016 in Guest Stories, Spotlight

Guest photoAs she drove from Corning to Chico, Marjorie was “scared to death.” She knew no one there. She had been living almost three years with her sister in Corning, but this situation became untenable. Financially limited and unable to afford a place to live, she found herself homeless for the first time in her life and needing electricity to run her oxygen machine. A member of the sheriff’s department recommended the Torres Shelter to her.

Marjorie was born in the beautiful redwood country of Eureka in 1948. Her younger brother and sister as well as herself had a good family life. When Marjorie was fourteen, the family settled in Santa Rosa where her father worked two full jobs in the post office and as a projectionist for the town movie theater. This was most agreeable to Marjorie who spent many hours in the projectionist booth of that movie theater.

Hoping she would attend college, Marjorie’s father was disappointed when she married at 17. She had met her future husband at a friend’s house. He was three days out of the military having just returned from Korea. Six months later they were married. The marriage lasted three years and Marjorie became the single mother of two children.

Marjorie was soon to meet another military man, become pregnant, and moved with him to Sacramento where they lived for about a year. When he left for a tour of sea duty Marjorie was seven months pregnant with her third child. When he returned stateside, he married a woman in Tijuana.

Once again on her own, but now with three children, Marjorie returned to Santa Rosa. She worked as a retail clerk for Alpha Beta and was looking forward to advancement through management training. However, Alpha Beta was struggling financially, and in 1984 Marjorie was one of many clerks left without a job. She was 36 and the sole support of three children still at home.

The stress of losing a good job and having to take whatever part time job came her way was too much. She had a breakdown and began fighting manic depression for the next thirty-two years. Marjorie and her children lived on a limited income from Social Security and SSI. The children grew to adulthood and were doing well in life, but Marjorie, a long­time smoker, struggled with a lung disability and lived with her mother and sister in Clear Lake until her mother died.

Afterward Marjorie and her sister moved to Corning where they lived together almost three years until their situation became dire and Torres Shelter came to her rescue. Because of her depression, Torres Shelter advised Marjorie to take classes at the Iverson Wellness and Recovery Center, a program of North Valley Catholic Social Services on Rio Lindo Avenue. They offered her counseling and classes designed to help Marjorie cope with her problems and give her direction. After a couple of months she was directed to have an evaluation of her medication where she found out that she no longer needed her medication for depression.

The years of smoking had taken its toll, and after surgery a year ago, she needed oxygen. Nearly two months ago the doctors told her that her lungs had healed and the oxygen was no longer needed. Marjorie was allowed to stay for eleven months because she was still taking oxygen until a month ago and was unable to find a place to rent that was affordable.

Good fortune came her way when a woman in her church directed her to the 86 year-old owner of a former B&B on the Esplanade (a place Marjorie calls “The Magic Yellow House”. After a lengthy interview, Marjorie rented a room, which has its own bathroom and refrigerator and which includes dinner. The Magic Yellow House has also brought Marjorie new friends with whom she visits, plays cards and does crossword puzzles.

Although initially fearful of loneliness when she arrived in Chico, Marjorie now has many friends. Marjorie attends two churches and says her faith is keeping her strong. As for her three children, she beams with pride when she speaks of the lives they have carved for themselves. She is also enthusiastic about her own future. When she gets financial aid, she plans to attend Butte College. Happy in her new life, Marjorie sings the praises of the Torres Shelter and those who treated her with respect and gave her encouragement. With a grateful heart she wants “to pay it forward” and return to the Shelter as a volunteer.