Transitions in life can sometimes leave a person in bad circumstances. North Brunswick resident Onawa Hawkins Gray had been laid off due to her company’s relocation. As a result, her family fell behind on their bills and all of their utilities—gas and electricity—were disconnected. Adding to these challenges, Onawa had just assumed guardianship of her 15-year old sister and had difficulty obtaining proper identification for her due to poor documentation.
While attending a court session to deal with some family matters, Onawa and her husband Melvin met a representative from PRAB. She received information about PRAB’s services and called that day. Onawa recalls her first impression of PRAB, “We were treated like people; not a number. They listened to our situation, which at first seemed impossible to resolve. The biggest obstacle we faced was getting a social security card for my sister. They directed us to the Social Security Administration for assistance. We weren’t even aware of the fact that my sister was old enough to get her own S.S. card. In fact, she received it a few days after applying.
“We were treated like people; not a number. They listened to our situation, which at first seemed impossible to resolve.”
Elianny Fernandez and her manager, Julie Jerome, were so incredibly helpful to us. They advised us on how to get identification for my sister. They contacted PSE&G for emergency assistance, negotiated a payment plan and enabled us to have utility service restored to our home.”
Onawa is now working at a better job and recently referred her mother’s friend to PRAB’s housing department. She says, “You are treated with compassion which helps to make a very difficult time easier. I am very grateful to them. I sent Ms. Jerome a thank you card to let her know how much we appreciated all their help.”