Her story is a classic tale of "How did it get this far?" starting with one crack in the glass, followed by another and another, followed by a financial catch 22. I am counting my lucky stars that I've not yet experienced even a fraction of these misfortunes and conundrums.
In 2016, Malinda was ready to take the next step with her career and the educational path of her twin 9 year old sons. A highly experienced early childhood educator, she left her job, invested her savings into home repairs/modifications which would prepare for her to open her own home daycare and homeschool her sons.
Not a few months later, one income down and savings tied up in the not-yet-launched business, tragedy struck when her husband had emergency surgery to have part of his spine removed, leaving them with medical bills, a disabled family member and no income (the first crack in the glass).
Malinda found work, but within a few months of her husband's health emergency, their house burned down (the next crack in the glass). No one was hurt, but they lost everything and were homeless for several months, moving between hotels and family members' homes. As you can imagine, this is an exorbitantly expensive way to live, allowing no margin for savings, only survival.
During this time, Malinda tried to keep up with past bills, including BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric) through a payment plan she negotiated with them. But after missing a payment, they nullified the deal and she had a block from future services until her bill was paid (third crack in the glass).
Finally they were able to find a home to rent in the summer of 2017. Her husband's disability still had not been granted (they are still awaiting a hearing this December, which the lawyer is confident they will win). Settled in their new home, the family put BGE in the name of their eldest (adult) child in order to turn the lights on. After several months, BGE realized this and turned off all gas and electric until the full debt (including exorbitant fees and penalties) for both accounts/names be paid off.
For the entire, sweltering summer, the family has lived without gas and electric. No fridge. No hot water. No AC or fans. No laundry. No phone charging/internet. They have made do with coolers and ice, laundromats, batteries, and flashlights, all of which become super expensive over the course of several months during one of the hottest summers on record in Baltimore.
Malinda reached out to churches, family, social services and explained what each can/can't do for her, sadly it's mostly "can't". Those avenues are not available to her to solve this short term problem.
With the glass cracking around her in a dark, hot house, her landlord just informed her that she may not live in the home without gas and electric and he will be EVICTING the family later this month, unless they can get the gas/electric turned back on before the eviction is processed.
This is a woman who embodies everything we say we want in our community. She works 40+ hours a week, has a degree, sacrifices unflinchingly for her family and educates our children.
The timing is urgent and the consequences are dire. If you can spare anything to help raise the $7,000 to clear Malinda's utility debt, please give. This small goal is all that is needed to turn her lights back on, prevent her family's eviction, allow her children to study, and provide them with a safe and stable home while they await their father/husband's disability relief. Take a moment to imagine the sacrifices Malinda and her family have made and the strength they've shown to endure thus far. Then take a moment to think about what you can give to provide them with a fighting chance at getting their feet back underneath them.