Couple Finds Relief From Pressure of Crushing Debt
Nicole and Israel were at their breaking point. They sat with their two children in a dark room – with no money to pay the past-due electric bill and no food in the pantry. They had left their home country of Puerto Rico in hopes of pursuing the “American Dream,” but the dream had turned into a nightmare.
When they first arrived in the United States, things seemed to be going well. The family found a home of their own and both parents had steady jobs. The one problem was how the family handled money – if it was around, they would spend it. They had some debt to pay but it seemed manageable with both parents working. But one day Nicole was at her office one day and received an unexpected visit from Israel.
“I show up at my wife’s job crying that day. I had been laid off,” he explained. With hardly any savings, Israel desperately searched for work. He was hired at a few places for small periods of time but was laid off again when work became scarce for the company.
After struggling for months living only on Nicole’s paycheck, bills began to lapse. The electricity was shut off and food became a luxury that only the children received. One evening in July 2011, Nicole left the house to pay whatever she could on their past-due phone bill. It was a familiar route that she had driven many times – but this time she noticed a sign she had never noticed before. The sign read, “Orlando Union Rescue Mission.”
Nicole immediately recognized the name, along with the opportunity to find help for her family. She pulled into the parking lot and filled out an application. Within 24 hours, the family moved in, finally finding a safe haven in the midst of the storm.
Nicole still recalls the first night. “We got the keys to our room and the family got ready for bed. My daughter was in the bunk above us and I reached up to hold her hand as we fell asleep,” she said. “The whole family was holding hands. We were in shock, but we were together.”
Through the different resources at the Mission, both parents received the encouragement and training to find sustainable employment and learn new, healthy ways to manage their finances. Over the course of their year-long stay, Israel and Nicole were able to pay off most of the debt that held their family captive. Attacking the debt together also strengthened their marriage.
Israel and Nicole moved out of the Mission in the fall of 2012. They are proud to say they are 90 percent debt free, and the remaining 10 percent is well within reach. They are living in a two-bedroom apartment in Orlando. Israel is using his skills in maintenance to oversee a multi-site medical company. Nicole is working as an assistant property manager and recently was nominated for a promotion.
Nicole and Israel still are overcome with emotion when they think of the impact the Mission had on their family.
“I was able to learn how to step up and lead my family as a husband and a father – that was one of the greatest lessons I took from the Mission,” Israel said. Nicole agrees: “We were Christians, but we thought we were in control of our lives. I was able to learn how to love and support my husband. I now know that our money is actually God’s money. It will disappear one day but we can store up riches in heaven instead.”
Nicole and Israel received the support and training they needed to find good jobs, attack their debt and become self-sufficient. Each day, O.U.R. Mission Home offers life-changing care to more than 30 families like theirs. Help create more stories of life transformation through your support today. Each gift of $26.82 provides a hot meal and life changing care for a homeless man, woman or child in Central Florida.