This year, Romona and her children will have their very first Christmas tree and will create new holiday traditions. That’s because for the first time ever, they’re living in their own home.
Until this year, the family lived in less-than-ideal situations. Their last residence had unreliable plumbing and a broken stove, but at least it was a roof overhead. Romona hoped it would be temporary, but despite working two jobs while studying for her college degree, the single mom couldn’t seem to get ahead. Then suddenly, last spring, the family was evicted through no fault of their own.
“My fear was becoming homeless, but that’s where things seemed to be heading,” she recalls. “I looked at apartments, and it was always something — I couldn’t afford it, or I didn’t have the deposit money, or someone else rented it first.”
Romona had never rented a home before and was overwhelmed by the process. She grew depressed and soon found herself at risk of failing out of school just one semester shy of graduating. She resigned herself to the idea of a homeless shelter, which is how she found Family Promise of East Bell County in Temple, TX.
Once at Family Promise, Romona finally found an affordable house. Family Promise spoke to the landlord on her behalf, helped her review the lease, then worked with her to manage her budget. Family Promise’s homelessness prevention and shelter diversion programs provided funds for her security and utility deposits, giving her some financial breathing room so she could take care of rent and expenses going forward.
But the support didn’t end there. Romona had just started a new job when she was in an auto accident that totaled her car. She had no way to get to work. Family Promise of East Bell County coordinated a vehicle donation that same day to ensure the family’s life wasn’t disrupted further.
“Without Family Promise, we’d be in a shelter now,” she says. “They cared about us and helped us pull through. But they won’t even take credit for it. They keep telling me, ‘You did everything — you worked, you found the house. We were just there to support you.”
Romona is the first to say it hasn’t been easy, but having her own home has completely changed her perspective on life. She’s excelling at school and her job, her children are thriving, and she has confidence in herself.
“I come home to my own home now. The kids love it — they have a backyard and their own room,” she says. “In the other places we lived, my son never wanted his friends to visit. Now he wants to invite friends over. We finally have a place we can call home.”
She has come a long way, but for Romona, life is still a work in progress. She’s thinking about careers after graduation and is excited to make her mark in the world. Her current job as a caregiver has shown her that she has something of value to offer and inspired her to do more.
“I’m making a difference in someone’s life, just like Family Promise made a difference in mine,” she says.
“I wouldn’t take back anything,” Romona adds. “When we came to Family Promise, I couldn’t smile or be myself, but now I can breathe. We’re excited to put up our first Christmas tree! This is how I’ve always wanted my home to be.”
This year, thousands of families like Romona’s faced life-altering challenges. Their situations were unique, but they had one thing in common: Family Promise. Family Promise Affiliates across the country provided families in need with food, shelter, job search assistance, and access to critical resources. But we couldn’t have done it without the support of people like you.
Your support enables families in crisis to turn tragedy into triumph.