Update: How you can help struggling family
Deborah Walker, center, shares a home with her son, David, 16, and mother, Katherine Woodruff, 82.
October 6th, 2011
03:34 PM ET

Update: How you can help struggling family

Editor's note: After this item first appeared in late August, many readers offered to assist the Walker family in various ways. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego is now connecting the family with sources of assistance. If you would like to contribute, please send checks, gift cards (Albertsons, Target, Walmart) or goods to: Case Management Services, Catholic Charities of San Diego, 349 Cedar St. Room 101, San Diego, CA 92101; include Deborah Walker's name in a note or on the check's memo line. Secure online donations also may be made through the Catholic Charities website. Clothing donations: David wears 38/34 pants, XL shirts and size 13 shoes.

[Original post, published August 24, 2011] Widowed mother Deborah Anne Walker was struggling financially when the economy turned sour in the fall of 2008. She is disabled and couldn't afford school clothes for her 13-year-old son, so she ended up having him wear her jeans, and other children teased him.

"You just have to keep thinking, 'OK, what is the one thing we have left that we can live without the most?' " she told CNN in September 2008. " ... I don't understand why, every time there is a crisis, it's the poor, disabled, children and seniors who end up having to pay for it."

Some kindhearted CNN.com users and members of her church came through with help for the family that fall, but the underlying economic conditions didn't improve, and Walker's situation may be even more dire now than it was then.

When CNN asked Walker, 50, of Vista, California, for an update, here's what she wrote:

There have been a number of changes since last we spoke. My elderly mother (Katherine Woodruff, 82) is living with us now. She had a fall, and a mild heart attack, and her doctor said she couldn't live upstairs anymore. So, I brought her home with me.

David has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, which is a form of autism. He is in a day treatment facility [Discovery Hills and Valley], where they get their academic (lessons) and therapy. This change has helped him very much.

[The San Diego County school district operates Discovery Hills and Valley, where special-needs students attend classes and receive medical care and prescriptions at no cost to the family. A bus provides door-to-door service.]

We still struggle to make it through each month. We have had a couple rent increases and no cost-of-living increase. It's been hard.

I have to take my mother to all of her appointments, bathe her, feed her, administer her meds, and the list goes on. ... I had to quit my part-time job [as a home health aide] because I needed to be home more because of my mother and my son's conditions. David has grown A LOT, and doesn't have many clothes that fit him.

[David, now 16, is nearly 6 feet tall and 245 pounds, Walker said in an interview.]

I'm doing much better emotionally. I have a couple of excellent doctors, and am not as depressed as I was.

It's still a BIG struggle financially. Right now, we can't drive the car because the tags are expired, and I can't afford the registration fees. We barely make it through the month without running out of groceries. We have had to cut out anything we didn't HAVE to have, like the cell phones. I don't know how I'm going to find the money to get the tags renewed, and I am the only transportation for the three of us. Between my medical problems and David's and my mother's, we have quite a few doctor appointments every month, and no way to get there!

[Her mother put off an eye appointment this month, hoping to reschedule when the family has transportation again, Walker said. Walker uses an old baby stroller to carry groceries home from a store in her neighborhood. "People look at me funny, walking down the street with an empty stroller, but you gotta do what you gotta do," she said.]

I think it's hardest on David. He's a teenager, and needs things, like clothes that fit, to keep from getting teased at school. He's depressed lately because we can never go out to Jack in the Box, or the movies, or even just to 7-11 for a Slurpee, because there just isn't any money.

[The family subsists on Walker's Supplemental Security Income (disability) check and Woodruff's Social Security.]

So ... I am kept very busy taking care of David and my mother. I still have faith in God, and hope for things to improve, even if only slightly. Somehow, I'm holding this family together.

Thanks for taking an interest. Most of the time, it seems like nobody cares about us. I get down, but I always drag myself back up. Quitters never win, and winners never quit!

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Filed under: California • Economy • Jobs • Most Intriguing People • U.S.
soundoff (981 Responses)
  1. lt

    please post information on how to help this family

    August 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      Facebook...Deborah Anne Walker...message her and you can get her info directly from her. She gave me her paypal account...Wakerdaw2@att.net

      September 29, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ams83

    Please, how can we provide help to this family?

    August 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deborah Freed Fishelman

      I want to send this woman and her family the money for the car registration. How can I get the money to her?? Any ideas CNN??

      August 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      You can find her on facebook and get her info directly from her. Deborah Anne Walker
      She gave me her paypal account and money can be sent straight to her. Walkerdaw2@att.net

      September 29, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. shubhia

    hi cnn
    you have posted a heart breaking story... can you follow up and make some arrangements for people, who wants to donate? Atleast one family will be happy

    August 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      It is a very nice thought to offer to help, but remember; this is just one example. There are thousands out there struggling. If you want to help, find a charity or church that helps people in similar situations on an ongoing basis and give to it.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • hannah01

      to Steve: It's just one example, but I'll bet if she could get on her feet, she would 'pay it forward ' and help someone else.

      August 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      Contact her directly and she can give you the info. On facebook you can find her under Deborah Anne Walker. She gave me her paypal account but I'm sure that you would want to verify it with her, Walkerdaw2@att,net

      September 29, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JohnO

    Hey CNN. How about posting a way to donate and HELP these folks? If everyone concerned just gave a dollar their lives would be better.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. KAT

    I would like to help this family anyway that I can by donating money, food and clothes....how do I get in contact with them?

    August 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cesar

    Debrah Anne Walker has been hit with bad fate. I've grown to believe that it is character, not money or education that makes a person. Debra is a winner I'll take her over a Trump anytime.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Casey

    As a high school teacher I know how important it is for teens to fit in to be able to concentrate. How can we help?

    August 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      Contact Deborah on facebook directly. Deborah Anne Walker. Message her and she can tell what she needs. I sent a little money thru Paypal. Walkerdaw2@att.net. Thanks for caring. Kaye

      September 29, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mojoshouse

    I mostly steer clear of political comments because they usually turn ugly, but I gotta ask zhawk88: How can you make that statement, when it's noted in this article that this woman and her family are much worse off now than in 2008 – Obama's been in office since 2009 – coincidence? I think not. Both parties need to step it up and resolve the economic crises occurring so that the poor, elderly and our children don't continue to suffer like this. And perhaps all of us need to look within ourselves to do what we can to help, instead of waiting for Gov't to figure it all out for us. That's likely never going to occur.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • mojoshouse

      And I applaud and would like to join the other kindhearted folks here who see people in need here.....where can we send donations?

      August 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gerry D

    my gosh, this is a very sad tale, i hope their life gets better in the future.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. zoundsman

    Well, that story stopped me from internally moaning about my problems. I hope that family the best.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Concerned #2

    I wanted to know how you would assist this family if interested. Thanks!

    August 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dr Evil

    It would be nice to help out but all my tax dollars go to bailing out dinosaur car companies,billionaire bankers and bloodsucking weapons manafacturers

    August 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Never give up

    Could CNN arrange for reader donations (seems like quite a few in these posts) to reach this family?

    August 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Roz

    Can we have an address, please?

    August 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Want to help

    Please provide me with information on where I can send a donation to this family. At least I would like to get her registration for her car in order. Or gift cards for clothes and food. We need to help eachother through this crises

    August 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
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