Help Keep a Family Together!

Sharon Fortner is an Aunt raising her Niece. She has been raising her niece, Zandra, since she was a baby, giving Zandra the only love and stability she's ever known. Zandra is 9. For 7 years, she raised Zandra with Zandra's mother living in and out of the household. A little over 2 years ago, Sharon began raising Zandra on her own. Zandra's mother was abusive, involved in drugs and battling mental illness. She finally left the household 2 years ago. Sharon and Zandra moved into an appartment in the basement of someone's house.

Life circumstances began to snowball even more. Sharon lost her job and her vehicle from the circumstances of sharing a home with Zandra's troubled mother. She was able to secure some state assistance, and some other support through a Kinship Program. Not having a vehicle made finding a job extremely difficult for Sharon, who was more than eager to work. After 1 year, Sharon and Zandra had to leave the appartment they were staying in, to make room for the landlord's relative to move in. Sharon and Zandra moved into the only place they could, a relative's home.

For over a year they have lived in the crowded house with poor conditions, but it was a roof over their heads. In the fall of 2013, Sharon became ill with Subclavian Steal Syndrome. She fell unconscious in the bathroom and was treated at the hospital. She has had two procedures done with little more than a bed to recover in at home. In the process, she has gone blind in her left eye. she has extremely poor circulation. She also suffers from COPD, Coronary Heart Disease, Chron's Disease, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol and Hypertension. On top of all of that, the relative that they are living with has told them they have to leave, that there is not enough room for them. They have been told to leave by the end of February. Sharon and Zandra are in danger of being homeless.

Zandra is an excellent student, who consistently gets straight A's, in spite of all that she has been through. She loves to read and play baseball. During Christmas season, Sharon asked me to take her to Five Below, so she could get some things "for Zandra". I saw what she was getting, so i was puzzled when I saw some things that didn't seem would be for Zandra. Sharon proceeded to tell me that Zandra had sent her on the shopping trip to make sure she had small gifts for her family and friends, even though she knew Sharon would have very little left over to spend on her. Very characteristic of the same giving child who, after Kinship Support group meetings, insists on helping clean up at the end of the night.

However, Zandra has only one person in her life that has cared for her through thick and thin, and that is her Aunt Sharon, also known as Maw Maw. Unfortunately, Zandra was born into a family ridden with disfunction, criminal histories, drug addiction and mental illness. Except for Aunt Sharon. Aunt Sharon wanted to give Zandra a chance in life, and she has. I must say, it breaks my heart to see them in danger of homelessness with Sharon having so many health issues that could become life threatening without a stable place to live.

It is so important that these two people be able to stay together, in a home conducive to raising a child. I see a future for this little girl and for her Aunt. It would break my heart for Zandra to end up in foster care. Sharon has applied for disability, and I believe she will eventually get it. However, the reality is that she will have to apply more than once and the process is long. My wish for her is to be able to finally get an appartment, instead of becoming homeless. A complex nearby, that includes utilities in the rent, would cost them approximately $650 per month. I would love to raise money for her to be able to live there for a full year, to give her time to be processed for disability. I need to raise approximately $10,000 for   Sharon and Zandra. I ask for any amount that you could give to help me in this.

Sharon is a strong woman with a bright smile and lively laugh, in spite of her circumstances, who only cares about giving Zandra a chance at life. Zandra is a beautiful, giving little girl, inside and out, who loves school and reading and gets straight a's. she has a very promising future if we can just pull together and help this small family stay together! Thank you in advance from the bottom of my heart for whatever you can donate. You are helping to secure a little girl's future as well as helping to protect the health of an amazing woman who loves caring for Zandra!


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Julie Radford Smith 
Dundalk, MD
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