Sophia Powers describes herself as a happy person by nature. In the spring of 2009 the Decatur resident had a good deal to be happy about. She had moved to the Atlanta area to be near her mom, and she found a job she enjoyed that paid well. Her three sons, the youngest 5 months old, were healthy and active and she was engaged to be married.
Then one evening her car left a rain-slicked road and turned upside down; her world turned upside down as well. Her two older sons and two nephews were in the car when the accident occurred. “I really don’t know how it happened. The police say the car must have hydroplaned. I was thrown completely out of the car, but boys just got some scratches,” she said.
Powers was not as fortunate as her sons and nephews. She was in the hospital for a month before being moved to the Sheppard Spinal Center for rehabilitation therapy. “I couldn’t move most of my body, and my face was so scratched up. I’m still paralyzed from the waist down and have some nerve damage. At first I would just look in the mirror and cry, but now I’m happy to be alive,” she said.
Before things got better for Powers, they got worse. Her fiancé, the youngest child’s father, left her and wanted to take the baby as well. Her mother, who had been helping, had to have major surgery. Even if she had been physically able to drive she would have been unable to get about because her car had been totaled in the accident.
Unable to work, Powers could no longer afford the home she had been renting. Once again, the weather turned against her. The night she was evicted there was a driving rain storm that soaked her furniture and many of her other belongings beyond the point of being usable.
Then help came from a complete stranger. One of Powers’ sons mentioned to his school crossing guard, Deanna Cauthen, that his mom was in a wheelchair. As the young man talked more about his family’s situation Cauthen arranged to visit. “She asked me what I needed. I thought she was just making conversation, so I started telling her what I needed. I was so surprised when she got me everything I said I needed and more,” Powers said.
Cauthen and members of her church became an ongoing source of help. Powers recalled that when the weather started turning cool, she was concerned about getting warm clothing for her boys, now 7, 5 and 1. “I asked myself which bills I could not pay so that I could get jackets for them. Then these wonderful people showed up with sweaters for all of them,” she said.
Working with her church members, Cauthen not only was able to provide Powers with donations of items she needed, but she also put powers in touch with government agencies that could help her. Through one such organization, Powers now has a minivan that is equipped so that she can drive it even though she can’t use her legs. “I was just trapped here in the house before,” she said. “Now I can get out—go to movies and the store.”
She still hopes to be able to move to a more wheelchair-accessible house.
Although her physical therapy is coming along slowly and it may be awhile before she can work again, Powers said she has a good deal to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Her baby’s father pays child support and a regular schedule of visits allows both parents to spend time with the child. “I can do a lot of the things I used to do. It might take three times as long, but I try to be patient. No one has told me that I won’t walk again, and I believe I will. Already, I can wiggle my toes a little.”