My co-worker and friend Katoya has had the worst year of anyone I've ever known. She is a single mother taking care of her little three-year-old girl all by herself in a city where she has no family besides her grandmother. (Her mother died in 2014, a month before her little girl was born-every family member but a distant aunt is in New Orleans). This year, she was diagnosed with cancer. Some of the chemo treatments/medicine that she takes causes her to temporarily lose her vision. At our office, we are required to look at a computer screen all day so you can see how this would make things more difficult at work. She still comes to work every single day with a smile on her face and a great attitude. If you did not know Katoya, you would have no idea that she has cancer. She also has seizures as a reaction to some of the other medicines. They recommended a surgery for her OR using lasers to cut out the cancer. She went for the laser option and while it got rid of most of the cancer in her spine, it caused lesions on her brain. One week before hurricane Harvey, her pregnant sister died. Katoya had no knowledge beforehand that her sister was even pregnant. The unborn baby was saved, but no one in the family could take the baby. Katoya wanted to take it, but she was not able to because of her cancer treatments, and already having her own 3 year old to take care of. During hurricane Harvey, her house was flooded. She got out (barely) with her daughter and not much else. Everything that was downstairs was ruined by the floodwaters. The waters receded- and then it flooded again. The company we work for reached out to all of us and asked us if we were affected by the flood and she did not want to say anything, but friends convinced her to be honest. She let them know that she had been flooded so they gave her some money after the flood so that she could take care of her extra expenses. Apparently, the landlord would not pay for the appliances that were ruined even though it was his responsibility to do so. She had to take all that money and buy new appliances for the entire kitchen. He also never removed the Sheetrock or insulation, he just bleached and painted the walls, so black mold started to grow and continued to grow for months after the flood. Katoya could not afford to move again, with the added expense of another deposit & moving costs. (The last place she lived had a shooting right outside her daughter’s window, so she had to leave there because it was not safe). Saturday night (December 17th) before she lay down to go to sleep she spoke to her friend on the phone before drifting off and talked about the heater that made the lights flicker whenever she turned it on. She had told her landlord about it and had sent him several notices that he needed to come fix it because she was worried about the electrical. She turned on the heater, fell asleep, and the wires behind the wall started to burn. She was woken up by her neighbor pounding on the front door because of the fire/smoke billowing up from her home at 5 am. The only thing she was able to grab on her way out the door was her wig to cover her head. She didn't even have any clothes. The fire destroyed EVERYTHING and it started in her baby girl's room so we are all very grateful that her baby girl was staying with her grandmother that night. It's a week before Christmas and she doesn't have a place to live. She called the Red Cross and they gave her a voucher to stay in a hotel room but the voucher is only $500 and every hotel she's called has a weekly rate of at least $600. Even if she found a hotel for less, $500 is not going to go very far. She scrounged to save money to get her daughter the Christmas gifts that she really wanted like a bike and a few other toys. All of those things are gone now. Those of us that know her and care about her are mobilizing and gathering clothes and items that she needs just to survive right now but she's going to need more than that-she's going to need a place to live and she's going to have to furnish that new place because everything is gone . I just want to say one more thing and that is that she is the strongest person I know. She has a smile on her face even after all the things she has been through. She KNOWS no matter what, God is taking care of her and her baby girl. It breaks my heart and warms it at the same time. Thanks for your consideration. If you are able to please make a donation. Even $10 or $20 will help. All funds are going directly to Katoya. If you are unable to donate, please share. Thank you so much.