Elizabeth* is a 55-year-old Moraga resident who lives in the home she once shared with her son and her now deceased husband. Elizabeth lost contact with her son Sam* over 15 years ago, after problems with addiction and mental illness drove him away from his family. She never stopped caring and worrying about him, but all efforts to find him were futile – until Thanksgiving 2016.

That November Elizabeth was sharing a Thanksgiving dinner at her next door neighbors’ when she noticed a man standing outside her home. She immediately knew it was her son. She ran to meet him and the reunion was very special. A few days later Elizabeth confided with her neighbors that even though she was beyond happy to her son again, she was now very worried about his health. Years of addiction and homeless had taken a toll on him. He suffered from diabetes and thought he may lose a foot as a result. He didn’t have a job or insurance, and Elizabeth could not afford a treatment out of pocket.

Fortunately, her neighbors had heard about One Degree. They introduced Elizabeth to the platform and helped her do some searches for health resources. She took it from there and found medical care options as well as mental health resources like support groups and therapy. While the medical options helped, the process is not over and both Elizabeth and her son are still working on getting their lives back on track. But now they don’t feel as hopeless as they did at the beginning. They know where to start when dealing with each hurdle. And Sam was able to keep his foot.

It is common for estranged family members to go back home during the holidays. After the initial reunion joy, the process can be challenging for families as they realize the work that needs to be done to heal wounds – both physical and emotional. One Degree helps to light the way for people during dark times.