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After escaping an abusive marriage, Julie Shuffler lost her job and found herself on the verge of homelessness.
Because of the impact of the abuse, she became very depressed and wasn’t able to work. “I was actually out of work for two years, and I ended up applying for disability,” she said. “But it didn’t come through for a long time, so I was facing homelessness with two kids. Being a single mom with the only income, along with having to carry the depression and anxiety and the PTSD and everything else that I was trying to deal with was such an overwhelming burden.”
Julie turned to the community for help. “I got connected with 2-1-1,” she said. “They were able to set me up with a multitude of organizations.”
Now she is a committed volunteer, looking to pay forward the assistance she received. “I volunteer in the community because I'm on a mission to give back to all of the angels in the organizations, especially United Way. It helped me when I went through a really rough time,” she said.
“There were many organizations that were able to jump in and help with my situation such as the Murphy Center and Crossroads Safehouse…I can't even name all of the agencies that got me connected,” she said. “It just seemed like every time there was a need that popped up in my life – that I started to stress about – I could call 2-1-1 or reach out to one of the United Way organizations and there was always someone there to just answer that prayer and come to my rescue.”
These organizations gave Julie and her family the support she needed to improve her situation – everything from a place to stay to holiday gifts. “I'm on the other side of it now, and I have this fantastic job,” she said. “I work with amazing people, my life is wonderful. I couldn't have gotten here without all of the volunteers and all the organizations that are funded through United Way.”
Now Julie gives back any way she can, with a unique insight into the importance of volunteering. She and her colleagues are involved in a number of volunteer projects through United Way, participating in Make a Difference Day and as Business Cares members.
“I really have a passion for giving back to all of the organizations and communities that helped me” she said. “There’s so much need in our community that I never knew was there, and now I know it's there. I was helped so thoroughly, so fully that I want to make sure that other people who haven't quite climbed out of that darkness that I was in are getting the help that they need.”
United Way of Larimer County mobilizes thousands of volunteers like Julie each year. Our Community Engagement programs and partnerships focus on increasing volunteerism, collaboration across sectors, creating a pipeline of civic leaders and business engagement with the community.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County