Lori Cheshier knew something was wrong the day Robert and Jennifer DeBell walked into the Lutheran Family Services Building Families Boutique.
Jennifer was part of the program. The couple had come into the boutique to spend points they’d earned to obtain various items.
Robert had been working in Fremont, but had a chance at a good job with more pay in Omaha. They had spent six months saving the $500 down payment on a car and after only one and a half weeks, the car died on the Interstate in Omaha.
“It died and stranded me, my wife and son. We had to leave the car overnight,” Robert said.
He called the car lot where he bought the vehicle and paid them to tow the vehicle back to their lot. Robert said the used car dealer accused him of blowing the engine. The dealer threatened to keep the car, the down payment and wanted Robert to continue making payments, he added.
At that point Cheshier called Robin Pfingston, founder of Uniquely Yours Stability Support. Through her non-profit organization, Pfingston lined up one of her service links, a towing and auto repair service, to get the vehicle.
It first required Cheshier and the DeBell’s minister, the Rev. Tim Anderson, associate pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fremont, to get the dealer to relinquish the car.
The car was repaired. It was established that the engine was not blown; it was the catalytic converter that had to be replaced.
“I thought I had lost my job, but they held it for me until I got my car fixed,” Robert said.
He added that having Cheshier set them up with Pfingston was wonderful.
“I didn’t have the money to fix the car. I was between jobs, because I quit one to take the other,” he said.
It was for purposes like these that Uniquely Yours was organized. Pfinsgton works to keep a simple need from compromising a family’s housing. Uniquely Yours helps with needs such as medication, car repairs or dental work. Pfinsgton said the non-profit organization was set up to be the missing link to help the existing agencies complete what they started.
“We are the link for other agencies that offer part of the equation involved with homeless prevention,” Pfingston said.
Pfingston said these agencies work hard to get that independence for their clients and if Uniquely Yours can fill in to keep families independent, everyone wins.
Pfingston believes if a family is fragile financially, regardless of the circumstances, they sometimes need an extra hand to keep their housing stability. Pfingston lines up agencies like Care Corps Homeless Service, Lutheran Family Services Building Families Boutique, Community Alliance and others so they can refer clients to her if they have an obstacle the agency can’t cover. Once Pfingston is called, she contacts one of her Service Link Businesses that offer their services. They then are paid directly by grants from Uniquely Yours.
Because of Pfingston’s working with these other agencies as a team, families like the DeBells can stay self-sufficient; even when circumstances are a threat to that independence.
“I knew what Robert and Jennifer needed, so I made the call to Robin,” Cheshier said.
Jennifer had the hardest part — watching her husband’s frustration and anger.
“We had worked so hard on everything, accomplishing one milestone at a time,” she said.
Robert added he’s not sure where they’d be if Cheshier and Pfingston hadn’t been there at that point in time.
“They helped us tremendously and it was much appreciated,” he said. “God bless them both.”