For thirteen years, Lia Marino has lived in her large studio apartment in Howard Beach, Queens, and loves being there by the ocean. “The whole area is beautiful,” she says. Unfortunately, in 2022, rising food prices and other costs began to threaten her ability to remain in her home. Her fixed retirement income was not keeping pace with inflation, and she needed help. Luckily for Lia, she shared her story.
“I was having trouble with rent and mentioned it to a neighbor. She’d had a similar experience and had found an organization that tried to keep people in their homes. I called,” Lia shares. That call was to The Bridge Fund. The staff there reviewed Lia’s finances and determined that it made sense to try to stabilize her in her current apartment. The cost of shelter entry would be far greater. The Bridge Fund provided budget counseling, a $700 grant for the outstanding rent, and a $200 Whole Foods card. “It was quick, I didn’t have to wait. They dealt with the landlord. It was really great.”
Knowing, however, that Lia needed a long-term solution, The Bridge Fund referred her to the Senior Employment Training Program of the Department for the Aging. While enrolled, Lia received a small stipend which, along with her Social Security, helped her stay afloat. But the best news was yet to come. Lia got a full-time job! “The Bridge Fund led me to an agency that trains people for work. Through them, I started at Catholic Charities as a volunteer and this spring got hired as an administrative assistant.”
Today, Lia takes great comfort in being able to remain in her apartment and neighborhood while also feeling engaged with the outside world and being able to afford small extras. “More people need to know about The Bridge Fund,” she insists.
“It was quick, I didn’t have to wait. They dealt with the landlord. It was really great.”