Twenty-nine-year-old Tiffany Matthews of Chico has faced obstacles throughout her life. For the most part, she has singlehandedly overcome them.
But she needs a hand to fight the most recent challenge.
“I hate asking for help, but I don’t know what else to do,” she said.
At 16, she was involved in a car accident that broke her back and left her paralyzed.
She spent four-and-a-half months in the hospital before being discharged to therapy.
“I had to learn to do everything all over again, including driving,” she said. “I didn’t start driving again until I was 22.”
Around that time, she gave birth to her daughter, Rylie. Six months into the pregnancy, the mother-to-be learned her child had a heart defect that has resulted in four open-heart surgeries – three before Rylie was even a year old.
Rylie, now 6, was also born with Johanson-Blizzard Syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disorder that affects multiple organ systems throughout the body.
At birth, Rylie underwent reconstructive surgery around her nose and on her scalp. She takes medication for her heart, pancreas, thyroid and liver in addition to vitamins and diuretics to help with swelling.
She’s had numerous hospital stays – the most recent a week-and-a-half stint in May – and visits doctors at least once a month.
“She’s a frequent flyer to Cook’s,” Matthews said.
Young Rylie is also deaf.
“She’s a little fighter,” Matthews said. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t keep going. She is and always will be my top priority.”
Those who know her agree.
“If Rylie needs it, her mom is there,” said Sue King, who volunteers with Matthews at the Wise County Animal Shelter. “She never asks for anything from any of us or anyone else.”
On the brink of homelessness, Matthews is reaching out to anyone who can help her keep a roof over her and her daughter.
They live in a mobile home on 10.01 acres north of Alvord that was purchased by Matthews’ mother, Debby Jones, and stepfather Smokey Jones in September 2012.
Matthews moved in five months later, after her stepdad was diagnosed with cancer.
“When we found out my dad was sick, I moved back home because I wasn’t going to sit there and watch them lose everything that they have,” Matthews said. “Two months after we found out he had cancer, he was gone.”
Eight months later, she lost her mom.
“I’ve been through a lot, but last year was probably the worst of them all,” Matthews said.
Living on a fixed income, Matthews has been unable to make payments on the property – so when the landowner informed her two weeks ago that it would be repossessed in six to eight weeks, Matthews wasn’t caught completely off guard.
However, Matthews said the owner of the mobile home has cut that timeline in half.
“Because the home is on land that is not in my name,” Matthews said. “That’s why he wants to come get the home, which is going to cost him more to move it than what it’s worth.”
Matthews was under the impression that the property owner would deed two-and-a-half acres for what had already paid on the property.
“Now it’s a totally different story,” she said. “We have nowhere to go.”
“It’s awful that people would treat someone like this,” King said. “She is faced with losing her house and everything Rylie knows. She needs her story out there. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.”
Matthews is looking for a place to call her own that falls within her budget.
“Being on a fixed income is not the greatest,” she said. “I get about $1,500 a month. After paying all of the bills, I’m left with maybe $10.
“I’m not looking for a handout,” she continued. “This is just what I’m faced with. I want something we can call our own and not worry about anyone coming in and snatching it from us. I just want to provide my daughter and I a place to live.”
HOW TO HELP
To lend assistance to Tiffany and Rylie, email Tiffany at firstname.lastname@example.org.