“We were looking forward to spending our first Thanksgiving in our new place. That’s when we found out,” Talia says. “From there, everything went down hill.”
When Talia and Karen* found out that the home they rented with their six children had become infested with bed bugs, they had no idea the challenges that lay ahead.
“Everyone had just gotten settled after moving in just a few months before,” Talia recalls. “Here we were, taking everything out again, but this time to dispose of it.”
Months later, the anguish is still palpable in her voice as she describes what the family went through. “We knew nothing about the process. We had to get rid of mattresses, bedding, the beds themselves…all of it had to go. All of us had to leave the house for two whole weeks.”
She describes how their children who range in age from three years to their late teens had to sleep on couches and floors at the homes of family members. “Then we had to get everyone up in the morning to get off to school and work. It was really, really tough.”
They were back in their Western Massachusetts home by Christmas, but with no beds and no presents, the holiday spirit was sorely lacking. “This can happen to anyone,” Talia says, “and when it does, you have no choice. You have to throw everything out.”
In order to keep their children clothed and maintain as much normalcy as possible, Talia had to sell her car, which made getting to work far more challenging.
“We had called everyone. This had gone on for months. We had gone to every agency in town. No one could help. Just after New Year’s, my mother suggested we contact The Salvation Army.” Talia remembers. “I almost didn’t even bother calling. I had pretty much given up hope.”
“But I did call.”
By that time, the family was back in their home, but sleeping on the basement floor in sleeping bags. As soon as the call came in, steps were taken to assist the family.
Emily Mew is the Field Representative for the Western Massachusetts Service Units of The Salvation Army. “One of our local volunteers took the call and reached out to me to see what help we could offer. The situation had gotten pretty desperate. Fortunately, we have a partnership with Bedding Barn in West Springfield.”
Within a week, a brand new bunk bed, with a full-size mattress on the bottom and a twin on top arrived at the home.
“When I saw that truck arrive and the beds came in,” Talia says, “that was the first moment I started to feel hopeful since this whole thing started.”
The Salvation Army paid for that first bed, which would sleep three of the children. Given the circumstances and the length of time the family had been displaced, the manager at Bedding Barn went above and beyond “John gave the family more than what the resources would ordinarily provide,” comments Mew.
“We are still trying to recover from this,” says Talia. “We aren’t all the way back yet, but The Salvation Army gave us our first step after we felt like no one was there to help. Our whole family is so grateful.”
*Names have been changed for confidentiality reasons.