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Sticking Together

Jeremy and Francesca told us all help is not the same. Two years ago they were in Florida because Francesca’s mom was sick. She was their support system and their rock. When she passed away, their next home was a shelter. Jeremy was working and saving money while Francesca was pregnant with their second child. They were really trying to create change in their lives and always felt like they took one step forward and two steps back. After nights of tears and worry, the shelter said they had exceeded their stay without giving Jeremy and Francesca the promised assistance that would have helped them secure housing. So, with a young child and now a newborn, they left in search of a safe shelter for the entire family. That didn’t exist. Jeremy and Francesca preferred sleeping in the car with their children to being split apart and feeling unsafe in a shelter. For two weeks they lived in the car at Daytona Beach. Jeremy said, “We couldn’t give up. It was so tough because I saw the kids in the car all day. We had to keep trying to make it work.”

Jeremy and Francesca felt that opportunities for jobs and assistance might be more promising in Texas, where Jeremy once lived and worked in landscaping. On hope and a prayer, Jeremy and Francesca journeyed towards Central Texas, only to be stopped by a car accident in Mississippi. In an instant, plans changed and transportation was lost. Jeremy’s cousin helped them with train transportation and a hotel to get them started in Central Texas. Why Georgetown? Georgetown had more affordable hotel options than the surrounding area. Jeremy and Francesca found a convenience store within walking distance that was hiring. They both started working an alternating schedule at the store so they could continue to care for their children. Life was starting to move in the right direction, but the hotel was still too expensive.

Jeremy and Francesca were ready to take their next steps towards stability with their family. Due to their experience asking for help in Florida, the couple was hesitant, but they eventually found their way to The Caring Place through a neighbor’s referral. The Caring Place staff did what they said they would do every step of the way. Jeremy said that impressed him and gave him faith that things would be okay. The Caring Place helped with a deposit, rent and utilities on their apartment that first month so they could move out of the hotel. The Caring Place also helped with food, furniture and clothes through its voucher system. And since the family walks everywhere, The Caring Place provided occasional Uber vouchers so they could attend important appointments that were not within walking distance. In a few short months, stability felt like a reality and dreaming began. Jeremy shared, “We have cried together here more than we ever have, but they are happy tears.”

Dreams look different for every family. Jeremy wants to work in landscaping again and Francesca wants to start her own cleaning company. “This is for our family and our kids. One day I’ll tell my son, come to work with me!” These dreams are on the horizon as Jeremy and Francesca both have begun new jobs with better and more consistent pay. They also dream about needed dental care, buying a car and homeschooling their kids. Jeremy said, “I hope donors are aware of the help they are giving families. It has meant so much to us. As long as my kids have what they need, I am happy. I am so grateful.”

Case Manager Quynh shared, “This couple has put in the work. As a Case Manager, I provide help and resources, but a lot of the help requires the clients to make connections, fill out paperwork and make phone calls. This couple did all that and kept me updated.” Jeremy added, “Every time Miss Quynh gave me a phone number or website, I jumped on it.” Jeremy expressed gratefulness for budgeting tips, too. “It’s a little overwhelming, but we have things to take care of now.” He continued, “I know that we are going to be better. And I know 100% it’s going to be because of The Caring Place. If it wasn’t for this place we’d be on the streets or in a shelter.”

There is something special about putting in the work and making it to the other side of heartache. As the interview closed, Jeremy turned to Francesca and said, “We’ve stuck together. We’ve done it, right?” They fist-bumped with pride and laughed as their two kids played between them. Life is filled with joy again


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