Daryl is a U.S. Army veteran and a single father raising his 14-year-old daughter in Freeport, doing the best he can to provide her with a happy life. He had been working as an MTA bus driver in Brooklyn for over 10 years, when in 2009 the bus he was driving rolled over a loose construction plate and was dropped into a hole in the street. His hip and back were injured, forcing him to leave work and undergo extensive physical therapy to alieve his pain.
In 2013, he was involved in another accident less serious than the first but it aggravated his already sensitive lingering injuries. He underwent surgery to repair the torn ligaments in his hip but he found himself unable to continue to perform the duties required of him as a bus driver so he applied for permanent disability.
Living on a fixed income has been a challenge for Daryl and his daughter. “My daughter plays soccer, and the team families often get together for dinner to celebrate big wins. I’m always reluctant to go because I don’t have the extra money to pay for a fun night out,” Daryl explains. “Life becomes a constant comparison – do I spend $60 on dinner or do I fill half of my oil tank? Parents offer to cover our tab because they know about our situation but I don’t want to depend on friends for my daughters’ happiness.”
The winter months have been a source of constant stress for Daryl, as the expense of heating his home meant he couldn’t afford to pay his other bills. He learned about Project Warmth through United Way partner agency Choice For All, and knew that it would relieve his worrying. “While I was working, I never thought that I would be in the position I’m in now. I had seen other people struggling but you don’t think about how unpredictable life can be, that what happened to them to cause their struggle could happen to anyone, to you.”
Daryl’s positive outlook on life hasn’t wavered, despite the challenges he faces. “There are a lot of people who have it worse than I do - I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back and the love of my daughter. I am thankful, appreciative and grateful for the assistance I got through Project Warmth. I am so glad that United Way and Choice For All offer this help to those of us who just need a small bit of assistance to make it through tough times.”