PLEASANT GROVE — Plastic hangs in place of walls, the plumbing remains capped off and the floor is bare, and it has been difficult to keep the wintry temperatures outside where they belong.
All of that is cosmetic, says homeowner Kimberly Anderson, but the ripped up bathroom is a constant reminder of a tough and broken marriage that has taken a toll on the family.
"He really left me in a tough spot," Anderson said. She said she stayed married to him because of her deep religious roots and thinking it was best for their three kids.
"I didn't want to give up on it," she said. And she doesn't want to give up on her tattered house, either.
Anderson works full-time as one of three special needs nurses in the Jordan School District, stretching her time between hundreds of kids at 12 schools. But she also has kids with special needs at home.
"I'm impressed with how proactive she is," said Anderson's colleague Kristi Cyd. "She's hardworking and resourceful. She puts her mind to things and just does it."
Cyd said Anderson has been resilient working through all the issues at home and in her complex job, which includes managing children ages 3 to 22 and keeping them safe at school.
"It's not an easy situation," she said.
Special education nurses also handle training for teachers and staff, perform vision screenings for kids, teach maturation classes and triage emergency situations, among other things. They oversee students with special needs that run the gamut from seizures to diabetes, feeding tubes to asthma, and behavioral problems to allergies.
"It's not an easy job," Cyd said. "She's come in and just done her job so well."
Anderson actually switched jobs before her divorce was final last October, in order to be home more with her kids, but it meant taking a big cut in pay, which Cyd said is noble.
"I'm proud of her and all she does," she said.
Anderson's oldest son, 8-year-old Matthew, goes to therapy every other week for a sensory processing disorder, and the youngest, Lilly, 2, is diagnosed with a brain condition that could result in debilitating seizures the rest of her life. Five-year-old Robbie is without medical issues but is still a lot of work at his age, Anderson jokes.
"I'm a person who doesn't like to ask for help," she said, adding that with all the financial issues she's facing, she couldn't have kept her family in their home without help from friends and family.
Her former husband owned a food truck and ran the business out of their basement, but in the off-season, he started odd jobs around the house. Many of them were never finished.
"I'm really stuck between a rock and a hard place," Anderson said. She's learned to fix a lot of things on her own, as her "meager teacher salary" is already stretched thin. She gets help from the state for day care, and visits the local food pantry for staples.
"I feel so blessed," she said, adding that blessings keep popping up — in the form of unexpected refunds, a raise at work, or from generous neighbors and friends.
"People are helping left and right when I've been so down," Anderson said, fighting back tears. She hopes women in similar circumstances feel empowered by her situation.
"I didn't think I would have the support I would need if I gave up on my marriage," Anderson said. "But people do care and they will take care of you when you need it most, if you're grateful and thankful. I already feel so blessed."
She would've never thought everything would turn out OK, but in her mind, it has. And her children are happy, which is more than she could ever ask for.
Anderson's sisters set up a fundraising page late last year to at least help finish the master bathroom, but a technical issue with the account caused all of the donations to be refunded. The page is back up and people are giving again, but for as much as Anderson has done for others over the years, everyone is hoping she comes out on top.
"If we can get a few tradesmen, willing workers and a little money, we can make Kimberly and her children's lives so much safer, comfortable and encouraging," said Meagan Wold, Anderson's youngest sister who set up the online fundraiser. She said her sister deserves a new start.5 comments on this story
"There are times we give and times we need help," Wold said, adding this is a time when her sister needs help.
"She's a good person. She cares about others," Cyd said. "She's a single parent in every sense of the word and she really deserves any help she can get."
Even if it is just for the kids, whom Anderson says have been disrupted by the absence of their father.
"I have to make sure my kids are taken care of and I'm the only one they have now," Anderson said.
To donate or read more about Anderson's story, visit gofundme.com/make-kims-bathroom-usable-again.