Denise describes her role of single mom as one person doing the job of two — “twice the work, twice the responsibility.” To help her handle all of the responsibilities of raising three kids and now three grandkids, Denise has relied on services from Person-to-Person throughout the years. Through visits to the food pantry, clothing center, financial assistance to help with utilities, extra support around the holidays, and even new pajamas on Valentines Day, the assistance Denise receives from P2P has been an essential piece of keeping her Stamford family stable.

What was already a difficult life was turned upside down with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Denise was furloughed from her job in a school cafeteria, and one of her two young adult children was also laid off. With significantly reduced household income, and unemployment taking weeks to process, Denise felt overwhelmed.

“Things as a single mom are hard enough when you’re working. Now it feels almost impossible.”

The sudden upheaval caused by school closures and job loss left Denise feeling alone in figuring out how to navigate this unprecedented crisis.

“You feel helpless, but you can’t stop, you have to keep going. You think of your children and you know there is no choice — you just can’t give up right now.”

Along with many other families, Denise experienced the challenge of taking on additional roles — going from helping with homework, to homeschooling and being a teacher. “Much respect to teachers — it is not easy doing their jobs.” Denise persevered and helped her kids adjust to the new situation, using Zoom and email for schoolwork, and also has helped them through new fears around all that is happening, explaining what they each need to do to stay healthy, and that things won’t be like this forever.

During the height of the crisis, it was difficult for Denise to turn to family and friends for emotional support, not wanting to add additional burdens to those everyone is already facing.

“I know I’m not alone — everyone is in the same boat right now.”

With seven people in the apartment, keeping enough food on the table with limited income became a real struggle. “The kids are eating more at home and the food is going fast.” With four children under the age of six in the house, It was a challenge for Denise to travel to P2P’s food pantry. The Door2Door delivery program, created in response to the pandemic, has allowed Denise to receive a week’s worth of food for every member of her family — delivered right to her door. This service has alleviated a lot of stress for Denise and has provided fresh, nutritious options to help stretch their food budget. 

While the months ahead remain uncertain, Denise is hopeful that the new school year will mean a return to work for her, and a return to normalcy and stability for her children and grandchildren.