I am a single father of four children ranging in ages from 8 to 14. I found myself in dire straights due to suddenly being unemployed after being laid off without notice. Before I was laid off I had worked steadily since I separated from the military in 1991. I chose a career that seemed to be solid enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about unemployment, construction, but I found out that even the “road work” guys are subject to the whims of society as well as anyone else. Unemployment was giving me the runaround and I still hadn’t received a check from them and DCF told me that even though I had legally adopted three children in need of help, I didn’t qualify for assistance or housing.
This situation seemed to be hopeless due to the economy tanking and in my line of work, there were absolutely NO jobs to be had. Day labor and miscellaneous odd jobs didn’t provide enough income to care for my family or pay our bills and an eviction notice was issued. Finally, a veteran like myself asked if I had tried the VA. Since I hadn’t and was at my wit’s end with that “nothing to lose” feeling I gave it a try thinking that since I didn’t retire after 20 years, I didn’t qualify for any assistance from the Veterans Administration. BOY WAS I WRONG!
“He called my landlord and STOPPED the eviction. Through the program, my rent was caught up and my landlord was assured that he would miss no payment, … and caught up the electric bill.”
After taking the means test and qualifying through the VA, I was sent to talk to Mr. Justin Baker and the crew over at Tampa Crossroads. Justin immediately put me at ease by asking me to take a deep breath, relax and explain my situation to him. After explaining what all happened and why I needed assistance, Justin then did the most amazing thing I’d seen anyone do EVER. He called my landlord and STOPPED the eviction. Through the program, my rent was caught up and my landlord was assured that he would miss no payment, Justin also obtained my electric account information and caught up the electric bill. I was so stressed out when I walked in that it took a minute for it to sink in that I was being helped and my kids and I could breathe a sigh of relief!
The program allowed me to be stress-free as I searched the job market for new employment. I was also able to start and finish a college course, in Bail Bonds, that will allow me to start my own business in the future increasing my chances of being self-sufficient and sharply decreasing the chances that I will find myself in this type of situation again.
Today, I am gainfully employed with Universal Engineering Sciences here in Tampa, and just yesterday, April 2, 2012, I received an offer letter from another engineering firm paying $9.00 an hour more than I currently make. Without assistance from the gang at the Veteran’s Assistance Center, God knows where my children and I would be today. This program should, in my opinion, be a permanent fixture for veterans and their families. Knowing there is help would allow many more Veterans to find it a lot easier to find suitable employment and self-sufficiency. This crew was not only counselors that assisted me in my time of need, but they were more like a family helping another family member to get back on his feet. From Justin initiating it all to Andrea Simmon’s kind words and actions and Derek Porter’s refusal to let you be down on yourself or feel like the world is down on you by not only counseling but looking just as hard as I was for a suitable job for me. I CAN’T THANK THESE GUYS ENOUGH!!
“I didn’t have a dime … I had NO idea where I was going to get anything for my kids for Christmas or how I was going to explain to an 8-year old that ‘Santa’ wasn’t going to come this year … when I got the call telling me that my family had been adopted for Christmas and things would be fine”
Oh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Christmas 2011, I think about it now and I am moved to tears. I didn’t have a dime to shine and call my own and I had NO idea where I was going to get anything for my kids for Christmas or how I was going to explain to an 8-year old that “Santa” wasn’t going to come this year. My spirits were in sad shape when I got the call telling me that my family had been adopted for Christmas and things would be fine, and they were but what’s more, is these guys at the Tampa Crossroads V.A.C. have instilled in me AND my children the need to give back and help someone in need.
I can’t thank Tampa Crossroads Veteran’s Assistance Center and everyone there enough. Without them, I still shudder to think where I or my children might be.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.