One grant recipient, Séverine Pierre, lives in government-subsidized housing in New York City and survives on food stamps. In 2010, she joined Americorps to assist survivors of the earthquake in Haiti apply for temporary protected status in the United States. “Even though I knew this job choice would affect the savings I had accumulated towards surgery, I could not miss the opportunity to help my people in a time of such great need.” Séverine is now a full-time graduate student pursuing a degree in social work and working part-time. “Surgery will not undo the wounds of the past, nor will it erase the resentful looks and cruel comments I endured during the early stages of my transition. However, it will help me face the future with a new sense of hope,”says Séverine “It will not solve everything, but it will give me the confidence to pursue my professional and personal goals, knowing that I am finally liberated from the cell I have inhabited since my birth.”
The second grant recipient, Nick Lawrence of California, faced a financial crisis when he and his wife of eighteen years were laid off of their jobs and their adopted daughter experienced a medical crisis. After two and a half years of unemployment and applying for over two hundred jobs with no luck, he started his own business, but struggled to make ends meet. Faced with a mound of debt, he has no way to pay for surgery without assistance. “I am usually the one giving money, support, time, care and attention to those less fortunate than me,” say Lawrence. “But, I am now at the point where I need some help, some strength from others to help me get through this time of challenge. Once I am on my feet, I will continue to help those who need.