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Woman, 68, loses husband and then her home, gets help in Monroe

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 5:35 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - A woman originally from Monroe shared with us her story of how she became homeless and how grateful she is to be getting the help she needs right here in her hometown.

68-year-old Debra Skipper became homeless just over two months ago when her husband died from cancer. She was living in Florida at the time.

“His illness was rather sudden and there was no preparation so I was pretty much left homeless and penniless,” said Skipper.

Skipper was living in Florida when she decided to move back to Monroe to get help from her friends and other resources.

“Having never been homeless before or in a situation like this, um, I just didn’t know what I was facing. Um, this community is just awesome. If they don’t have it, they send you to someone who does that help,” said Skipper.

She’s currently staying at the Salvation Army which sent her to the Renewal Center to get the services she needs.

“We assist with document recovery, IDs, birth certificates, social security cards. We assist individuals with filling out Social Security disabilities. We assist individuals that are going through, fleeing from domestic violence,” said Executive Director of the Renewal Center, Billy Varner. “Anybody that hits our door, there’s something that we can do for them. Like I said if it’s not any more than connecting with other services in the community that may meet their needs.”

Executive Director Billy Varner said in addition to providing local resources they enter people into a homeless verification system.

“What that does that allows other agencies in the area that’s part of the continuum to see the individuals that we’re entering into the system and where we may not have a bed, one of the other agencies may say well look, we see this individual we have x amount of beds,” said Varner.

The Renewal Center serves three meals and remains open during the day, so Skipper can stay there in between appointments and interviews.

“I was really impressed with the service I got here and the attention because the service worker went above and beyond her duty to help me and so quickly,” said Skipper. “The social worker helped me with getting income started and how she did that was that she contacted organizations for medical and for SSI and different things that I qualify for. I mean I came here with nothing and left here rich because of this center.”

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