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Program helps people find the help they need
Jennifer and Frank McMullen outside of their home in Oakland. (Chris Bristol/Fremont Tribune) Chris Bristol

Throbbing, relentless pain was Frank McMullen’s reality.

Frank and Jennifer had been living in Missouri with her mother.

“We were helping her. She foreclosed on her home and we found out the last minute,” Jennifer said.

Since Jennifer had family in Fremont, they moved. Their children stayed in Missouri with relatives to finish school. The McMullens moved in with her sister, but when the children rejoined them in June, the house was too crowded.

Jennifer and Robert moved into Care Corps Homeless Shelter in Fremont.

The pain Frank was trying to live with complicated everything. His tooth became infected and couldn’t be ignored.

“Whenever the tooth swelled up, I’d take him to the emergency room. They’d give him medication, but said he couldn’t put off dental work,” Jennifer said.

As a result of intense, ongoing pain, Frank couldn’t work or look for housing for his family. They told their case worker at Care Corps, Sarah Cady, and she referred them to Robin Pfingston, president and founder of Uniquely Yours Stability Support.

“She found us a dentist, who would do the work,” Jennifer said.

Dr. Maria Cacho, Tri Valley Dental, is part of Uniquely Yours Service Links. Once she pulled the tooth, Frank was able to get a job at Burger King and they found a rent-to-own house.

Not content with one job, Frank also works for his landlord, helping him renovate and reopen his bed and breakfast in Oakland.

Jennifer said Pfingston was a lot of help.

“We like being able to be independent and handle things on our own,” she said.

Frank said they are as happy as can be.

To go from being homeless and extreme pain, to solution, job and housing was amazing to Frank.

“It was awesome and unbelievable. It was a relief,” he said. “It was like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.”

Jennifer also is working on completing her certified nurses assistant training.

Both said they are grateful for the support and help from their case worker and Pfingston.

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“I was in so much pain and now it’s like nothing is bothering me. Right now we’re taking one day at a time and living life as much as we can,” Frank said. “Robin would be the first person I’d want contacted if we needed help again.”

Preventing or moving people out of homelessness with her unique resource program was a vision of Pfingston for a decade. Changing the dynamics of the community by Uniquely Yours standing in the gap between all the agencies that help those in need was her dream.

“We offer an opportunity for those in need to maintain their housing stability and become productive members of our community,” she said.

Pfingston said the payoffs are in the lives they change, as evidenced by the McMullen family. Uniquely Yours Stability Support grant funds are paid directly to the source of the solutions, the service links.

Pfingston said they also don’t take self-referrals because that ensures those needing help already have a built in network and support system. Recipients agree to let Uniquely Yours track them for one year and it must be verified that no other agency was able to offer assistance.

“It really has been a blessing to watch this program unfold and see the lives we are able to touch and change,”

Pfingston said.

For more information, visit www.uyss.org on the Web.

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