Rising from the Ashes

March 23, 2018


Given a hypothetical situation, people may speculate about what treasured personal items they’d save from a burning building, but Maya and her family didn’t have the luxury of making those choices when a devastating fire destroyed their home. The only possessions spared were items they’d left in their car when they came to Family Promise of Greater Roanoke, Virginia.

“Maya was one of the most dedicated parents we’ve seen,” says Aaron Dowdy, Housing Stability Manager. “Though she was still dealing with the trauma of the fire when we met her, she was resolved to move her family forward.”

In addition to handling the stress of the disaster, Maya had to determine her family’s future. As an independent massage therapist, she couldn’t work without her equipment.

Because meals and shelter weren’t a concern as part of Family Promise’s rotational program, Maya could focus on rebuilding her family’s world with guidance from her case manager. Family Promise connected them to a local agency that provides clothing to those in need. Through Family Promise’s workforce development program, Maya created a new resumé and eventually found work with a local chiropractor.

Once Maya was employed, Family Promise worked with Rapid Re-housing, an intervention service that returns those experiencing homelessness to permanent housing, to find her family a new home. The service covered the security deposit and first month’s rent to give the family a head-start on their new life. Family Promise’s financial literacy program, New Beginnings, enabled her to create budgeting, savings, and spending strategies to use moving forward.

Maya and kids (women's march) (2)

Maya so successfully implemented the strategies she learned, Family Promise selected her for further financial planning coursework that the Affiliate hosts with a professional financial expert. Through this program, a local bank matched the family’s savings in predetermined incremental amounts, and by the time Maya completed the nine-week course, she had saved more than $5,000.

Once Maya had money to put toward a new home, the family’s path to independence skyrocketed. She started her own business – a café and yoga studio – where her mother helps with the cooking. Her son is thriving in school. Family Promise wrote a reference letter for Maya to enroll in a master’s degree program in nutrition, which she just completed, and she now offers weekly nutrition workshops to in-program and Family Promise graduate families as a way to help those in a position she once experienced.

Family Promise played such a valuable role at a critical time in her life that Maya feels compelled to give back in other ways, as well. She has served on the Affiliate’s board of trustees, babysits children in the program while their parents attend financial literacy, parenting, and health and wellness classes, and has mentored another Family Promise family.

Maya is grateful for the services Family Promise provided her beyond the critical shelter she was seeking when she arrived.  “They continue to help you after you find a home,” she says.  “Even after you find a job.  I don’t know of any other place that does that.”

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