Alena’s Journey

Her Story

When his mother died in 2008, Steve Douglas wanted his daughter, Alena, to be at her grandmother’s funeral. But he hadn’t seen Alena in three years. Alena’s mother had custody, and Steve didn’t want a court battle. So, he drove to the town of the last-known address he had for Alena. “I couldn’t find her,” he said. “But someone told me she had a job at a local restaurant, so I went there.” They talked after her shift, and slowly began to rebuild their relationship.

When Steve discovered where Alena had been living, he could hardly believe his eyes. “She was living in really bad, bad conditions,” Steve said. “She was living in an old abandoned trailer, heated with only a small kerosene heater. It didn’t have doors on the bedroom or bathroom, and she was sleeping on an old dirty couch.” Then he learned the truth: Alena had been living on her own. She had few possessions — basically the clothes on her back and a few odds and ends.

Steve invited his daughter to move back to Huntington. Steve also connected Alena with Pathfinder Services, and she soon regained her Social Security benefits. Pathfinder Resource Connection also helped Alena find a new job. The first job she acquired wasn’t the best fit, but with help from the Pathfinder Resource Connection staff, Alena was soon able to find another position. The second job, in an environment better suited to her personality, has worked out well.

“I’m a very friendly person,” Alena said. “So when I started working at the high school food service, I felt a weight fall off my shoulders. I became a different person.” Her new job allows Alena to interact with staff and students, letting her personality blossom. She loves working in the kitchen and on the food line.

The Pathfinder HomeOwnership Center also helped Steve and Alena both improve their credit so they could get approved for a house. Their new home is titled in Alena’s name, and she makes the payments. That way, Steve knows that if anything happens to him, Alena will be taken care of.

“If it wasn’t for getting my credit straightened out, if it wasn’t for Pathfinder Services, we would not be homeowners,” he says. “I tell people to go talk to Pathfinder Services if they have a problem. They have always treated us well, and they really help people in the community.”