(Update: Since the original article was written, Sarah and her family spent a freezing night in a moving van, a week or so in a hotel, and now are in a much safer situation for all of them. Sarah has continued to accept commissions for her photography business and continues to smile despite the many challenges her family still faces. Her dogs are doing well also. She credits the good hearts of people, many of whom she's never met, who helped them with housing, funds to rent a moving van, and even a kind soul who got her camera back to her so that she could continue to support her family and practice her art. Sarah says that before now she believed that most people were good, but now she knows it for sure. She knows that there are still obstacles to face, but she is ready to face them.
Going forward, Sarah says that she will focus on her children, her dogs and her business, and what is best for all of them, and will continue to believe in the goodness of mankind. Her faith, she says, is not shaken. God took care of them, and he will continue to do so. This reporter wishes Sarah the best of luck and happiness.)
If pictures tell a story, Sarah Holder is the writer, and she crafts the story well.
Just a glance at her personal Facebook page shows photo after photo of beautiful children, local events, even a photo of hers featured in Times Square in New York City. Sarah, as the owner of Sarah Holder Photography in Greenville, SC, is a true artist and professional at her craft and has a way of making even mundane pet photos come alive to the viewer's eye. As noted, she's been featured in Times Square and TOWN.
But this week, Sarah has a different story to tell, and it's one that many families are facing across the nation.
Sarah, her husband Eric Darnell, their eight month old baby Ozzie, their Lab mix Moss and their Whippet/Doberman mix Maggie will be homeless at the end of this week.
Sarah thinks it's important that when she lists the members of her family facing a time without a permanent roof over their heads, she lists her dogs too. "We are absolutely dedicated to keeping every member of this family together." she wrote in a Facebook message. "My dogs are family members, so much more than the word 'pet.'" Sarah has another small daughter with a health condition who will be staying with other family for now.
Sarah and Eric's troubles started a year ago when Eric, a local chef, was forced to have surgery for a health condition he had been battling for three years. While he was recovering, they only had Sarah's income as a freelance photographer to live on, and she was pregnant. Late summer Ozzie was born, which taxed the family's finances further, and other small disasters kept happening which, on their own could have been dealt with, but as a whole helped the family's finances spiral downward. Earlier this month, her hard drive where all of her work was stored literally broke, and she didn't have the hundreds of dollars needed to send it off to a special place to get her data retrieved.
The last straw, as Sarah puts it, was when Eric's payroll check was accidentally shorted, and the time it took for the mistake to be rectified caused them to lose their apartment.
This isn't a family content with living off unemployment and public assistance. Both of them are successful, artistic people who work hard in their chosen professions to make a living. But sometimes life intervenes, and disaster happens to the best people - and those who depend on them, like children and pets.
On April 8th Sarah posted notices on both her personal Facebook page and the page for Sarah Holder Photography (also located in their apartment) letting people know that she would be closed indefinitely. Even in the face of adversity, Sarah's requests were simple: she asked for food for the family, supplies for her dogs, cardboard boxes to pack their possessions in for storage until they could put together enough resources to find another place to live, and short-term use of a truck and/or trailer to get their belongings to their storage location. Sarah's precious cameras have been pawned to pay utility bills, although she still holds out hope of retrieving them soon.
Many families, given this situation, would either be asking friends or family members to take their pets, or making plans to drop them off at a local shelter. Sarah is determined that the family - the entire family - will stay together.
As there are few homeless shelters that allow pets, this means they must make alternative plans. They do not have a car, so unless something better comes along they will be setting up in a loaned tent for the time being. Eric is lucky enough to still have a job, so they hope to save as much money as possible in hopes of finding a place before cold weather comes again.
There are a lot of people at a time like this who would be reluctant to let others know of their plight. But Sarah believes that homelessness and society's failure to take care of those most in need should have a face - or faces. She says "It's hard. I suppose it would take most people actually being in this situation to begin to understand it. But it's an epidemic in this country that needs to be addressed. People live in my situation and they're far too quiet about it. We have to speak up and be proactive if we expect change."
If you can help Sarah, Eric and their family in any way, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. This email is also tied to her Paypal account if you would like to donate funds to help the family. Sarah's cell phone isn't active at this time, so borrowed wi-fi is her primary means of contact with the world. If you'd like to see Sarah's pictures, her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/sarahholderphotography.