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For Atlanta-based flight attendant Melissa H., donating to the Delta Care Fund was never a question. She had always been serious about giving back to the community, and since starting work at Delta eight years ago, she gave what she could out of each paycheck.

But when Melissa found herself in a dangerous domestic abuse situation and in middle of a divorce, the tables were turned and she became the one asking for help. “When I contacted the Delta Care Fund, I was at my breaking point,” Melissa said. “I told them, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t even have gas for my car.’”

The Delta Care Fund was established to help employees in crisis. It derives its money from employee contributions and a committee of employees makes decisions about giving grants to their colleagues in need.

In 2013, Melissa was living in Colorado and recently married. The marriage came to a halt after six months when her husband became physically and verbally abusive.

Once police arrested Melissa’s husband for domestic violence, he filed for divorce. From there, she lost her home, her car and almost all of her possessions – Melissa explained that her ex-husband’s lawyer harassed her to the point that she couldn’t even return home to get her things – alongside the mountainous legal fees that were accumulating. To add to that, she had lost her mother to cervical cancer just a few months earlier.

“I was totally blindsided,” she said. “I was married to someone I had known for 27 years – we grew up together. It was such an incredible loss for me to lose my marriage, my beautiful home, my mother to cancer. I knew I needed help.”

Melissa reached out to Elaine Miller, Manager – Employee Care and Scholarship Funds, and told her what she had been going through. Miller listened to Melissa’s story and encouraged her to apply for the Care Fund. Within 36 hours, Melissa received the grant she desperately needed.

“I was on a trip in San Diego when Elaine called me and said, ‘Melissa, I just spoke to our board and you’ve been approved for the highest amount you can be approved for,’” Melissa recalled. “I just started crying and screaming. I was so relieved.”

Using the money, Melissa rented a U-Haul and moved to Atlanta. Now, Melissa is on the other side of her struggle and says she’s doing “really phenomenally.”

“The Delta Care Fund afforded me a brand new life,” she said. “It really wasn’t even about the dollar bills. It was more about the fact that I was supported by all these incredible Delta employees when I had just lost everything. You don’t know what could happen in five years from now, or even next month. If you were the employee in need, wouldn’t you want to be surrounded by the generosity of your coworkers?”

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Since receiving support from the Fund, Melissa says it’s given her an even stronger passion to give back and she uses every resource available to her to make a difference. She focuses this passion by volunteering with the nonprofit organization Bridges of Faith, which helps Ukrainian orphans find permanent adoptive families in the U.S. Melissa also competed for and won the title of Ms. Georgia America 2015, with her platform being breaking the silence of domestic violence.

“I want people to know that when you do good, it keeps giving,” Melissa said. “The Fund helped me start over, and now I’m trying my best to be an inspiration to others.”

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