It Could Happen to You, Too - United Way Bay Area
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It Could Happen to You, Too

May 22, 2018

Everything can change in a heartbeat—just ask SparkPoint Oakland client Crystal. It started in 2012 when Crystal was injured at her job and became physically unable to work. In the ensuing years, she totaled her car in an accident with an 18-wheeler semi truck, fell victim to identity fraud, and lost her home. Crystal found herself overwhelmed with debt, most of it fraudulent, and was forced to live in homeless shelters for almost a year, using her fixed income to pay for a storage unit for her belongings and a rental car so she could get around.


It was at a shelter that Crystal first heard about United Way’s SparkPoint program. She had been denied housing and knew something was not right with her credit, but was unsure what to do about it. At Crystal’s first appointment with her SparkPoint coach, Vanessa, they pulled her credit report and found more than $50,000 in debt and a tax lien from her identity theft. They got to work.


Vanessa was impressed with her new client from the beginning, saying “Crystal is a determined person who does not give up, regardless of what obstacles are thrown her way.” Even though she was homeless, Crystal was prompt in attending all of her appointments, and completed every action item she was assigned. Her hard work paid off and within months, the fraudulent debt and lien had been removed—she also significantly reduced her own debt, budgeted to lower her expenses, and worked to rebuild her credit score.

Crystal says of her efforts during this time, “I had to be on point. I was very motivated, and eager, and determined… I always have another goal that I’m trying to accomplish at the back of my head.”

Thanks to a referral from SparkPoint and financial help with her deposit and first months’ rent from the shelter, Crystal soon obtained an apartment at a new affordable housing complex. With the help of Season of Sharing, her new home was furnished at no cost to her. Thanks to her new budget skills, she also managed to scrape together funds for a car of her own.



Crystal will soon begin taking community college classes through a voucher to help further her education so she can return to work in an even better job once her injury heals. In the mean time, she is looking for a part-time job to supplement her income.

Despite everything she’s been through, Crystal still lives her life as her mom taught her—believing in the good in people, and always trying her hardest to give them the benefit of the doubt. She says SparkPoint helped her to keep this faith: “There are good people out there… They helped me, they’ll help you.”