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Merri Cleavland

How did you feel when you first understood the assignment?

Before looking in a seat back, I already knew there would be an orange envelope in front of me. I have very limited contact with the outside world. I work from home, home school my kids and spend 98% of my time with only immediate family. I am a single mother with a well protected schedule. I was not thrilled with the assignment, I didn’t want to go “in search of” an assignment and I didn’t want anything extra to do. The orange envelope sat on my dresser and stared at me for days.

How did you decide how/where you’d use the money?

I am very rarely on facebook anymore. I had briefly logged in and FB suggested that I may know “Em Cee”. It turns out that she was my foster daughter several years ago, in a totally different part of the state, and FB said she was right here in Schenectady. I reached out to her and she was cautiously replying with statements like: “Theres really nothing to much good going on I wouldnt know what to talk about. I dont want to bother you with this or me but I’m really having a hard time right now . I was trying to reach out to people that ive encountered in my life in the past because I dont have many people . I wanted to know would there be any way you can help me with a few dollars . I’ll leave you alone. Anything you can spare would really help right now…I’m just unsure about everything. I’m not to much of a people person and it’s been a long time. I know it would probably be good for me but idk . I’m feeling some way. I don’t know . and even if it did happen one of the problems is that I have no clean clothes right now . That’s how bad its going right now.” After much persuasion, and prayer, she agreed to meet. But she now lives in Utica… While chatting with her over several hours, she asked what church it was that we used to attend together, told me of another woman in the store last week who paid her bill because “God told her to help”, and indicated that she would like to start attending. She’s broken, emotionally spent, burdened to the hilt and unemployed. (She did indicate that she has an interview on Monday).

How did you use the money?

We turned it into a family affair. She got to see my two older children grown up and met my youngest (who gave her many hugs and continually told her I love you! You are my friend). We took her to the zoo and out to dinner. I offered to take her shopping for things she might need. She leaped on the offer. It turns out she had just recently left a shelter and only had a bed and love seat. We purchased many things for her apartment, food and some clothing. And lastly gave her the $100 from Grace and additional cash. Upon leaving her, she asked if we could keep in touch and if she could reach out to me again, since her family doesn’t really want her and she doesn’t have anyone else. We reminded her that even with all the terrible things that have happened, God has been keeping an eye on her. And He is the one who sent us to her aid simply because He loves her. We left her teary eyed with a promise to return. And I left grateful for the reunion, pleased that she wants to go back to church, and relieved that my “assignment” was so simple.