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. Pleiva

    50? The poor lady looks like she's 75. Life has not been kind to her.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      no, Plevia, it has not.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jack

    Please let me know how I can help this family.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      Jack, you can contact her thru facebook under Deborah Anne Walker or email her Walkerdaw2@att.net She can provide you with any info that you need.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jenn

    I feel for you... things are rough right now. And I'm starting to think that until we get rid of the dollar, the poor will always pay with their livelihood.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Geo

    So much for the war on poverty. Yet another stellar government success.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Copper's Donut Shoppe

      the war on poverty is working fine ~ there are several hundred political appointees in DC making 250k to administer it.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CLC

    How can I help this family?

    August 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • San

      It says the main blogger for this section is Mallory Simon. Maybe through him or her? Maybe there's a way to get an e-mail address.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      Contact her directly on facebook under Deborah Anne Walker or email her Walkerdaw2@att.net She can give you whatever info you need, Thanks!

      September 30, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Star

    I don't know why I bother to read these posts. I guess I am hoping people will accidentally get kinder. The only place where more mean spirited people post is FOX. All I can say is I pray these troubles never visit your door step. Remember, what goes around comes around. You should all hang your heads in shame and be grateful for what you have. Before you post something think if you want that read over your church (I am sure you are all good religious types) loudspeaker with your name attached. How would your friends and family react? Give you a high five or be embarrassed? I know you embarrass me and I don't even know you.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • texcal68

      Thanks for saying what needed to be said!

      August 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • San

      Thank you for having an ounce of kindness in your body. This family is going through hell. Some people need to be cruel when they should be saying, "There but for the Grace of God go I." A little compassion goes a long way. And maybe when you are in your time of need, people will remember whether you've been kind or rotten - and respond accordingly.

      God bless this woman and her family. I pray her troubles end soon.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris in NC

      Hey Star..."The only place where more mean spirited people post is FOX..." was an unnecessary comment irrelevant to this article.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • nolabear

      That was brilliant, Star. I hope you don't mind if I use that line about the church loudspeaker when I hear people saying such meanspirited things. These are bullies with the cover of anonymity, and the abuse of the right to say what one wants is heartbreaking.

      David and his family sound like fine people weathering a difficult life. I wish them the very best.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tbear2125

      Star:
      I have to agree with you. I always read the blogs after an article and I am amazed by the number of people that have so much hatred towards others. I wonder what is missing in their lives to be so angry. I commend the woman for taking care of her elderly mother and her son to the best of her abilities. For all the people that have not lost your job or are not faced with tough decisions I pray for your sake that you never have to endure what countless Americans are currently enduring. You would definitely have more compassion in your hearts.

      August 25, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. stay at home mom

    I live in San Diego and I would love to help her son out with clothing and shoes. I could just drop it by. If someone could give me any info on how to get in touch with them I would appreciate it.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I have plenty of clothes that would fit him- how do I get in touch?

      August 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      Contact her on facebook under Deborah Anne Walker or email her Walkerdaw2@att.net She can give you any info that you need.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. Communapitalist

    Communism vs. Capitalism – Neither one works for the benefit of all, but when it comes right down to your country's Tea Party and Republican Party, from a Canadian point of view, your Tea Party and Republicans are trying to turn your nation into a neo-Fascist dictatorship. This is truly a sad day for the USA, once known as the greatest super-power on Earth.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. joe joe

    well the bad thing about this is your situation. if you were an illegal 3 more kids you would be fine but your american. whats wrong with this picture dems only help illegals repubs help the rich i hope your family gets help.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Justin

    We don't know what she is truly buying with that money, there's always a dark side to the moon and everything else in life.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • nolabear

      All too common excuse for doing nothing.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • WhatTh?

      What the hell is that supposed to mean?

      August 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Indi

    Please contact my via email and let me know who to contact at CNN to help this family.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      You can contact her on facebook under Deborah Anne Walker or email her Walkerdaw2@att.net and she can give you whatever info you need.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  12. Rose

    For those wanting to help, you can look up Deborah A Walker in Vista, CA, and her address is listed in the online yellow pages.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      Also, she is on facebook under Deborah Anne Walker or email is Walkerdaw2@att.net

      September 30, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chawon

    What can I do to help? Please post a site were people who would like to and can make a donation contribute to this family. Thanks.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      You can contact her on facebook under Deborah Anne Walker or email her Walkerdaw2@att.net and she can give you whatever info you need

      September 30, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. Paul Revere

    Obama's lifestyle is prospering while everyone else in the country is suffering. Just like Castro, Chavez, and all the dictators in the Middle East. Wake Up America!

    August 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JC-VA

    How can we help this people..?

    August 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
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