John a single parent and a father of five came to ACO in desperate need of help. John was laid off from a Corporate America position where he had health benefits, substantial salary and what he believed was stability. John believed shortly after his lay off he would bounce back quickly into the same industry he left or something similar. One month turned into two months, three months turned into six and six months turned into a year. After exhausting all of his options and being unable to survive on unemployment benefits John reluctantly came to ACO.

He met with an Emergency Assistance Case Manager for financial assistance for his mortgage. John was offered additional services such as food from ACO’s food pantry, clothing and appliance from ACO’s Resale Shop and Personal hygiene and care items from ACO’s Care and Share program. Overridden with shame John replied, “No thank, please give those items to someone who needs it.”

John’s Emergency Assistance Case Manager encouraged him to partake in the services empowering to reap the benefits as a tax payer. John continued to refuse the majority of the services but agreed to shop in the food pantry. ACO’s front desk staff made John an appointment and sent him on his way.

The next week an ACO volunteer from the Food Pantry informed the Emergency Assistance Case Manager of a client that refused to shop in the pantry and returned his appointment card to the food pantry staff. The volunteer handed the Case Manager the card and it was John.

The Case Manager contact John to meet with him in person again to discuss the situation, John agreed. At the meeting John revealed feelings of overwhelming shame, guilty and deep frustration. Having a Bachelor’s degree and unable to feed, clothing and possibly house his children was degrading for him. Sharing his circumstances with a social service agency was belittling and shopping in a food pantry for the first time was devastating.

After meeting with ACO’s Emergency Assistance team John gathered the courage to get the help he needed. John began receiving services from our food pantry, resale shop, emergency and professional development. John went from earning $0.00 a year to $10.00/hr. to $39,000 yearly. John is not finished; ACO’s Transforming Lives program will fund John to obtain a Project Manager certification to boost his career and move from poverty to self –sufficiency!


Amanda, a 25 years old single mother of four wears many physical and emotional scars as a result of   domestic violence came into ACO in need of financial assistance to prevent homeless and hunger in her family’s lives.

Amanda works 40 hours a week, earning $17.00/hr. to care for a household of 4. Although she has a full time job, each month she makes payment arrangements with multiple bill collectors to maintain her utilities, pay rent with late fees all while attempting to avoid overdraft fees from her local bank. Amanda is what we call the working poor.

Amanda is employed with a reputable company, makes more than minimum wage but not enough to financially maintain her household. Amanda earns too much money to qualify for food stamps or Medicaid but not enough to feed her hungry children or pay the outstanding balances on the medical bills that cause her credit score to decline at a rapid rate.

Although, she possesses a great deal of professional experience, one of Amanda’s major barriers to escaping poverty is education. A high school diploma and a few college credits, lack of disposable income and the inability to maintain her family’s basic needs (food, water, and shelter) prevent Amanda from achieving her life’s goal of becoming an RN.

Amanda knew if something didn’t change in her life, she could never escape the grasp poverty has on her life! Imagine having to choose between food and shelter and education! It’s hard to imagine isn’t it! No one should have to make that choice, especially when very resource you need is the resource that can change your life for the better.

Through ACO’s comprehensive services, Amanda is received financial assistance to avoid homelessness and more! Amanda walked into ACO to resolve a temporary crisis and walked out with long term change!

Amanda now receives emergency assistance for utilities to assist her in building a savings account to plan for the future for her family, a Financial Advisor to help her budget her income, food from the food pantry to feed her children 3 meals a day, Financial Literacy to reduce debt, clothing, shoes, household appliance and furniture from the resale shop and tuition assistance to complete her education and fulfill her dream to become an RN! Allen Community Outreach is not just giving a hand out, we give a hand up!


Angie visited the bank to make her usual transaction for the week and realizes her PIN number doesn’t work. She enters the bank lobby and speaks to a representative only to find she is not an authorized signer on the account and the funds she once had access to; are no longer available. After such shocking news, Angie calls her husband only to find that he is in the process of filing for divorce and she has a limited number of days to move out of their family home.

Angie, possessing a high school education and a few college courses under her belt doesn’t know where to start. She has been out of the workforce for 10 years!

Anxiety ridden, desperate and confused Angie, learns how to apply for a job through ACO’s Professional Development program, pay her bills online through assistance from ACO’s Emergency Assistance Case Manager, and open a bank account through ACO’s Financial Literacy classes. Through ACO’s emergency financial assistance program she is able to maintain her home until she obtains employment. Through ACO’s Client Choice Food Pantry she is able to feed her family healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables from community gardens, Whole foods, Sprouts and much more! She is able to obtain clothing, appliances and shoes for her children through ACO’s Resale Shop!

Angie learns to navigate her way to maintain her home in a way she never knew she could! She obtains a job as a waitress earning a little over $2.10/hr. an hour plus tips to take care of herself and two children. Working double shifts only helps her to pay enough on her mortgage to barely avoid foreclosure. Angie has made it a long way but it still isn’t enough. Angie needs a career not a job, but that only comes with higher education or a certification in a lucrative field of study.

Angie enrolled into ACO’s Transforming Lives GED program and has recently passed two sections of the four parts of her test. Angie has a long way to go, and is willing to go the distance! Through ACO’s comprehensive services she can obtain all of her needs in a one stop shop. ACO helps change lives, circumstances and mindsets! Angie not only changed her circumstances through comprehensive services, but changed her “I can’t “mentality to “I did”! ACO gives a hand up not a hand out!