When Karin O’Reilly lost her mother, age 50, to a sudden stroke, the recent college graduate was left alone to provide the emotional and financial support for Patrick, her young brother.
“When my mother died, I was working in a restaurant full-time,” she said. “But my goal is to be a doctor, so I returned to college to take science courses in preparation for applying to medical school.”
Karin and Patrick moved to a small apartment in their hometown of Croton. “I wanted to keep Patrick in the same town, with the same friends and activities so his life could be as normal as possible,” she said.
It was difficult to manage the demands of school, work, and caring for Patrick, now 14. When the restaurant business was slow, she made less in tips. During the holidays when the restaurant had more customers, she had to take off time to study for finals. As a result, Karin fell two months behind in the rent.
“I finished the semester and then tried to catch up on the rent, but it was difficult,” she said. She approached Catholic Charities for assistance and was referred to The Bridge Fund.
“From the first time I walked into the office, they made me feel like I was worth something,” she said. “Taking care of Patrick, working, and going to school is the right thing, no matter how hard it seems.” The Bridge Fund collaborated with Karin’s parish, St. Augustine, to provide $1,700 for one month’s rent; Catholic Charities contributed another $500; The Bridge Fund assisted with $1,200; and Karin contributed $500 to pay all the arrears.
Now back on track financially, Karin has almost completed her coursework and is preparing for the Medical College Admissions Test and her future as a doctor. Karin said, “I know I am not alone and that I’m doing the best I can for both me and Patrick.”