Only one short year ago the Emory family was living the American dream. Their 5 bedroom home in a gated community provided not only a beautiful place to live, but also good schools for their 5 children. The oversized kitchen area also offered a great space for Wallace and Desiree to put their culinary passions to use. So finding themselves homeless-and without basic needs like food-earlier this year was devastating for the entire family.
Looking at the Emory family, homelessness probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Both Wallace and Desiree are well-spoken and had always worked hard to provide a good home for their children. Breon (16) and Deiango (14) are respectful teenage boys who enjoy sports and hanging out with their friends. Aijalon (12) likes reading books in her spare time while her younger brother Seveyn (9), a wise 4th grader, likes playing on the computer and "just having fun." The youngest, Zion (8), is an adorable girl who enjoys school and homework.
Wallace was employed at an environmental cleaning agency while Desiree coordinated vacation plans at a local theme park. However, Wallace injured his arm at work requiring surgery and was eventually let go from his position. Losing the job meant that Wallace would no longer be able to provide a comfortable lifestyle for his family.
Months passed as Wallace recovered from surgery and began searching for employment once again when another trial blindsided the Emory family. Desiree's salary had allowed for the family to make it through Wallace's job loss, but as the economic conditions worsened, fewer families were planning vacations to local theme parks so Desiree was let go from her position. Without any income, the Emory family's savings dwindled quickly. As their electricity was eventually turned off, the family became scared and uncertain of what was ahead. "At that point, we realized that we needed to let go...and let God be God in our lives," Desiree recalls. They released hold of their beautiful home and possessions and were referred to the Orlando Union Rescue Mission for help.
"We didn't know what to expect, but when we got to the Mission we saw other families and a home-like environment," Desiree remembers. Wallace is back at work part time at a local theme park and continues to seek full time employment.
When asked what the children miss most about their home, Seveyn undoubtedly says his mom's home cooking-"Chicken, spaghetti, and omelets." However, both Wallace and Desiree have been voluntarily putting their culinary skills to use in the Mission's kitchen. Their passion to cook not only benefits their family, but now the 130 women, children, and families at O.U.R. Mission Home. Desiree's popular chicken salad is always a big hit while Wallace constantly outdoes himself with tasty desserts. Although the Emory family never expected to spend Christmas homeless, they are grateful that the Mission has provided a safe placefor them to stay while they rebuild their lives. "This isn't the end of the road for our family. The only way that we can go is up, so this is the launching pad that Jesus is using to take us higher," says Wallace.
The face of homelessness is changing and more middle-class families are finding themselves without a home or hope this holiday season. You can help make a difference in the lives of families-just like the Emorys-this Christmas.