Early 2011, I was faced with a family situation. My husband was sitting in jail for his second DUI in 3 years and I knew I could not continue to live my life like that. After he got out, I made the decision to leave him. We have 3 kids together. They were 9, 8, and 6 at the time. I found myself not being able to make it and surviving off the job I had at McDonald’s working for fewer than 8 dollars an hour. I had the second job for fun money and finding myself suddenly as the primary breadwinner. I was seeing a family counselor, Kathy Klause, and she suggested that I move to a big city with more opportunities seeing as there were not many there in the small town I was living in (Navarre, Fl). After talking to my brother, he agreed to allow me to move in with his family temporarily while I tried to start over again with just my three kids and me.
Things were ok for the first month or so before they started to go bad and the tension built up over time and we knew we would probably be on the street if we didn’t find a place soon. I discovered Tampa Crossroads with a flyer at the Workforce agency when I went to a resume writing class. I signed up for the woman’s stand down. The flyer listed the very assistance I had been looking for. I was unable to attend the stand down so I reached out to the Veterans assistance center and made an appointment to meet with Justin Baker. It was a life-changing meeting that very day when I kept my appointment. I did not want a handout; I just needed help and guidance in the right direction where to go and how to do it.
“We knew we would probably be on the street if we didn’t find a place soon … Justin and Olga helped me … We were able to move into our new place … almost 4.5 months after we moved down here with nothing.”
I was able to meet all the requirements and was approved for VA medical health services being a 10 year Navy Veteran (Sept 94-Dec 04). Justin and Olga helped me with direction and guidance in looking for a place to live and how to approach people when applying to the apartment complexes. It was a very trying time but I was finally able to find someone who was familiar with the program and the Hunters Run Apartment complex approved my family and me. We were able to move into our new place on Dec 13, 2011, almost 4.5 months after we moved down here with nothing.
During my time while waiting to find a place to live, Andrea Simmons worked with me in getting me prepared to interview, writing my resume (Victor also assisted me in writing my resume), and referred me to dress for success to get some business attire. I was ready to go. I have not really had to interview before. My only other jobs in the past sixteen plus years had been the US Navy and McDonald’s. Andrea and Rhonda Lewis helped get me ready to face the world and be able to support my children.
“I got the call that they wanted to offer me a position in the company. … I knew my family and I would be alright with a steady, good-paying job.”
The veteran’s assistance center had a mentoring day with Amerigroup Corporation that I attended. They were not looking for employees but just to get the word out about what they do and to give us advice and tips for your resumes and interview skills. I left that day thinking “I want to work for them”. About a month or so later, Andrea calls me saying Amerigroup is hiring and I called and was given an online application. After about a month-long process, I got the call that they wanted to offer me a position in the company. I was so excited and they even offered me more than I asked for. I knew my family and I would be alright with a steady, good-paying job.
Rhonda then referred me to the Children’s Board to help assist me with childcare. There I met Ammie Crespo. She has assisted me in coming up with a game plan to assist me in finding child care for my children. She referred me to Homemakers, who came out and assessed my new home and helped to fill my home with furniture, and made my new place like home. My kids and I love it. Rhonda has also referred me to Wheels for Success to help assist me with a car since the one I have now is falling apart.
“You saved my life from feeling like I had to stay in my marriage because I had no other option. You have given me a chance at a new life and the confidence that I am worth it. I can do this and I am strong.”
Since that fateful day, I was in the workforce and saw that flyer, my life has changed in ways I cannot even imagine and I am in a much better position than I ever would have been in up in Navarre. I know my three kids (now 10, 9, and 7) and I will continue to thrive and make it with all the help and assistance I received with Tampa Veteran’s Assistance Center. I would not change anything about my experiences with this program and felt like I have met some wonderful people who genuinely cared for my family and me. I am surviving without the emotional abuse I endured during my ten years of marriage and I am making it without a spouse in my life. I know that I still depend on my family here but not in the same sense, and since we moved out, our relationship has been salvaged. Your program saved my three kids from living on the streets. You saved my life from feeling like I had to stay in my marriage because I had no other option. You have given me a chance at a new life and the confidence that I am worth it. I can do this and I am strong. Thank you for giving me a chance at a new life for my family.