My name is Michelle. I am 22 years old, and I am living in Tennessee currently. I am blessed to be housed and have access to food, water and shelter, but my situation is still far from what I would have wanted. I am unsure of where to start in order for my story to be coherent, because so many circumstances and challenges of my life, including familial, financial, and emotional/ spiritual have contributed to my current predicament. The past 3 years have been extremely difficult for me and have tested my faith repeatedly. But it is time to ask for help now. I couldn’t possibly explain everything here, so I want to stick to what feels most relevant to share from my heart. I do just want to say that I know there will be pieces missing, I’m just trying to be concise. Not everyone may agree with or understand my choices, but I strongly believe God will always provide. I’m grateful to anyone who chooses to take the time to read this. Thank you.
The most immediate need I am requesting assistance with is help with the funds necessary to purchase a reliable used vehicle, and to pay for the registration, first insurance payment, and hopefully any associated taxes as well. My goal and request is $4,000, even though I’m not sure if that will cover everything. It will be a good head start. I am reluctant to ask for more than that, but I’d graciously accept absolutely any amount great or small.
The reason I need help is because I recently experienced a vehicle fire, and I was living in my car at the time (from November 2019 – December 2021, when it caught fire). It was a small car, a Volkswagen Jetta that I got in 2018. I left it where I had parked it for 3 minutes to use a restroom in the middle of the night and when I came back, it was up in flames somehow. Thankfully I was in an area where there were other homeless individuals and several came running when I yelled that I needed water. Waiting on the fire department wouldn’t have worked. We doused it successfully after a couple minutes – someone actually came up with a huge BUCKET of water and said God woke them up out of their sleep to come help me. Thank God nothing exploded and no one got hurt, but the majority of my belongings were destroyed, though I didn’t have much to begin with. Somehow my important documents (SSN, birth certificate) were intact, enough warm clothes to suffice, and a bit of food I had gotten earlier that day from the food bank.
It still technically was drivable to my knowledge (I just cranked it and pulled it forward 3 feet but never took it for a test drive because the soot prevented visibility), but the fumes and soot made it nearly impossible to sleep in it anymore, and the gas tank was almost completely on empty. They ended up towing it and also evacuated every single homeless person living in that area 3 days later, so I was unable to save it from being impounded. I now technically owe over a thousand dollars for that, but I can’t think about that right now.
My only source of income during the time I was homeless was a small amount of savings at first, and then flying signs (“panhandling”). But when the fire happened I had absolutely no money. I was borderline losing my mind with sleeplessness and crying every day wondering what I was going to do. My ID had gone missing, I had become unable to continue paying my car insurance and thus was uninsured for months, my tabs were about to expire, the phone I had been using completely broke in May of last year, and I was panicking about how difficult it was going to be to arrange for those things to be addressed while away from my hometown, let alone pay for them. There was also the issue of the fact I would need to speak to my family to do so since my info correlated to those addresses. I was also going through a deep spiritual crisis which I won’t describe for personal reasons, and for brevity. The point is, for months leading up to this, it was truly the most I could do to get myself food and water.
I was terrified of seeking governmental assistance because the social workers I had interacted with in the past were very brash and intimidating to me. It is easy to profile a young, well-spoken person who doesn’t appear to be dealing with a drug addiction as a just a lazy millennial, a burden to society. My explanations of my situation being “escaping abusive parents” and “depression and social anxiety rendering a job commitment difficult” were rarely met with compassion. While I would fly signs people would hit me with the “quit asking for handouts and just get a job!” without knowing a single thing about me other than i was holding up a piece of cardboard. And I can’t fully blame them, because they’re pinned down in the same system we all are trying to cope with. Anyway, the point is I was definitely already at rock bottom when this fire happened.
I had already tried to take my life in 2018, and making it through that experience taught me that 1) the mental “health” industry could NOT help me personally, and I needed to stay as far away from being involuntarily committed again as humanly possible, and 2) even though I felt completely broken, I was not hopeless and I couldn’t bring myself to try to do that again to my own body and my own soul. I didn’t care about leaving people behind at the time, as heartless as that sounds, because everyone had treated me like scum. I cared that I had beautiful dreams for my life that I somehow realized I was willing to keep fighting for. I wanted self sufficiency, to be able to travel someday, to have meaningful relationships and be physically and emotionally healthy. But self care takes time, and years passed and I still struggled and still am struggling. I feel proud to be someone who has devoted myself to choosing to live even as horribly painful as it can be for me daily. I have never had much direction other than to pray, to follow God, and to not get caught in the rat race. Hence, my somewhat by-choice homelessness. But strangely when my car caught fire and someone was there to help me, I felt freed of the panic surrounding how much I couldn’t keep up with anymore about owning a vehicle at the time. So I had some semblance of unexpected relief. It was molded, cramped… window busted out, windshield completely shattered from a huge limb that felt on it several months prior… really rough shape. But I didn’t know how to address those problems so they stayed the same.
Anyways, the way I ended up back here at my parents’ residence, the environment which I literally moved into my vehicle to escape, was that someone I had recently met who also was living in their vehicle at the time, had the means and the generosity to be able to bring me back home, since I had literally nowhere else to go. For backstory, I moved out of my parents’ house the day I turned 18 due to this environment being extremely hostile, volatile, abusive, and traumatizing daily for me. My father was a very emotionally and occasionally physically abusive and threatening individual to be around and became very alcoholic for the last several years of me living here as a minor. I’ve lived so many places since i left at 18 just trying to stay afloat and stay away from here. I am blessed to be able to say that because of how I have grown as a person in the time that I completely cut contact with them, and all the ways they have changed as well in my absence, it is a less horrifying experience than it was in my childhood. My father stopped drinking, and their hearts have softened in certain ways, I believe partly due to seeing similar issues develop with my younger sister who is also facing depression and suicidality, and attributes much of it to their abuse as well. They are no longer my enemy though. I do love them, I see that they were hurt as children too and never quite healed, and they do understand that I am my own person and that my presence in their world is not a guarantee. They see that I have standards for how I will allow myself to be treated.
But, to put it bluntly, I legitimately considered living in a tent as opposed to coming back here. I was too scared to do that as a solo female especially in the winter. So I came back.
Currently my only options for creating a source of income I know of are flying signs at the local Walmarts (despite this being an area where that is extremely uncommon and frowned upon… I am still going to try), doing odd jobs for the neighbors/family members if they are in need of it (nothing yet), and online jobs, the most promising of which for me personally seem to be freelance proofreading/ copy editing/ potentially being a content writer. These you can get started doing by passing tests for qualification, rather than needing experience or special training/degrees.
Getting a job physically always resulted in a downward spiral every time for me, so I don’t plan on pursuing that at this time. This is a small town full of, in my opinion, very judgmental and close-minded individuals, with very limited jobs for people without a degree besides fast food basically, which just seems like a very unwise choice for me. I don’t do well with contractual relationships and interactions, schedules, being sexualized at work, rude customers, etc… it has always proven too overwhelmingly taxing and unsustainable for me personally. At least for now. I care about my wellbeing too much to sacrifice it in those ways. Not to mention that I would only be able to work part time (barely) even if I did choose that, as I would need to get a ride each time.
Thankfully my parents are willing to offer access to a computer so I can work towards my goal of online work, but the laptop they have available actually has a broken screen, and is very old. However, my dad has set his mind to fixing it, we are just unsure how long of an endeavor that may be, as my parents obviously have other responsibilities and activities they have to tend to. I’m grateful they are willing to help.
Once I do start that work, the pay begins very low usually, since I’ll be on platforms that do not require collegiate qualifications. From what I have read, until you accrue good ratings and/or a returning clientele base, work can be very tedious and low-paying. The good news is, I do believe I am rather proficient at the basic skills needed, (I got 3 perfect ACT English section scores back in high school) and there are free training courses available so I can refresh my memory. It just may be very slow going, and it may be a total flop, who knows.
Any financial assistance anyone may be able to offer would help me greatly, because otherwise it could potentially take me 1-2 years to get out of here. I am trying to cope with having never wanted this to happen in the first place. Once I have a vehicle, I intend to move back to the area where my 2 closest friends are that I had had leave after the fire. They were a huge support to me, and assisted with my attempts at healing simply by loving me, despite how many ups and downs I’ve had. That particular area is far more friendly for people who don’t do the traditional 9-5…more forward-thinking, more populous, better resources etc. I would hopefully also have the laptop to take with me so I could remain much more self sufficient than before, provided that the online jobs pan out. The truth is I really don’t need much money at all to live. I am low maintenance – the main thing I need to be able to continue evolving is the time and freedom to devote to caring for myself emotionally and trying to heal all this childhood trauma that makes me crazy.
Other than that I really don’t know what else to do with my life, I prioritize my wellbeing over money but a huge part of my wellbeing is having my own space, and right now being able to buy a vehicle spacious enough to live in is the healthiest option I can think of. I am aware it sounds insane to many people, that I’d choose that over living in a house, and I can sympathize as I know it is unusual. But my environment matters to me. All I need is a good minivan, a reliable Toyota most likely. I would genuinely prefer it over having to live with my blood relatives. Perhaps once I feel like I have a better handle on my mental and emotional health I can look into other employment options and a more stable lifestyle. But this location is not where I ever intend to reside, and in fact I never intended to return here. I am here because otherwise, I would actually be living on the street and I have enough sense not to allow that to transpire even if I don’t feel at all at home here.
As I stated before, I did not have a phone at the time of the fire, so literally all I have in the way of evidence of the fire is some partly charred belongings which isn’t really proof. What I do have is my bank account balance. I didn’t even have a bank account at the time of the fire, but upon arriving here, I was able to successfully acquire a checking account and debit card that required no credit check. I will post a screenshot of that balance here.
I thank you if you read all this (I tried to be concise but I just know I have an unusual story, and I didn’t want to be vague). I know the fact I am housed and fed means that many other people need more urgent help, and I’m grateful there are resources like this where they can receive that help. I definitely don’t believe I am owed assistance, I just figured it was time to reach out and ask for a hand. I believe God will inspire whoever is meant to see this to see it and they can choose from their hearts if they wish to offer a bit of help. I don’t know how else to make all this money in a timely manner on my own otherwise, and I strongly prioritize getting out of this household because these are not relationships I wish to try to rebuild just yet, I don’t have the capacity, and stagnation kills. I have no future here. I am only marginally safer than before, and I mostly stay away my family members, though I respect and appreciate their willingness to house me. I am only here to avoid sleeping outside. There is no one in my life I feel comfortable asking for financial help from. Nor would they probably be able to spare the help, anyway.
As you can see in the photo, the only money I’ve had in the account is just over 5 dollars, which is from verifying my other financial apps (Paypal, Venmo, and Yotta) and $5 which my mother sent me as a test to make sure Paypal worked. I spent it at a convenient store which I blocked out for location privacy + security reasons.
I have this under “Emergency Money” not because I am in an active emergency, but because I consider the fire to have been one.
With my sincerest gratitude and blessings,
Thank you. GOD BLESS
Amount requested: $4,000
Reason/Need: to purchase a vehicle so I can be independent
P.s. I also have a savings app called Yotta, which is a lottery-incentive-based app for saving money. I found a referral code for some bonus tickets which is why I signed up… it’s not like I have any money yet. If you want to use my referral code, we will each get some free tickets! I recommend the app. Totally free.
Yotta referral code: MICHELLE698