The Family First Center empowers the entire family with the necessary tools to change their lives

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Toys for Tots & A Story to Make You Smile :)

A reminder for all parents...
Registered trademark of the US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program
Registration for Toys for Tots is still going on at the Family First Center, Monday to Friday from 3-6pm, until Wednesday, November 20th. All children in Lake County who are in need of toys this Christmas are eligible to register for Toys for Tots. Registered children between the ages of 0-14 will receive three age appropriate gifts. 

Parents need to have the following to register: 

1) birth certificates (or adoption records) for each child
2) any photo ID
3) proof of residency (e.g. piece of mail showing address, cancelled check, vehicle registration card, rental/lease agreement, etc)
***Photocopies acceptable

So remember to make it over to the FFC to register before November 20th - we want to put smiles on the faces of as many children and families as possible this holiday season!

Last time I spoke about donating and the incredible positive impact that some time and money can have for another person who has been down on their luck. I also mentioned the passion that the staff here have for their positions and how they put their whole heart into their work. Today I'd like to share with you a recent success story at the FFC that warmed our hearts, proving that persistence and positive attitude will get you far!

*written from the point of view of the FFC staff member

I had a lady who came to me and she needed to pay her rent.  She was referred from the church and was a mother who worked full-time. She received over $1,000 with each paycheck, paid twice per month. She was a single mother of two and pregnant with a third child. She did not find out she was pregnant until she was 7 months along, leaving her little-to-no time to prepare. She did not qualify for any public assistance - no food stamps, WIC, or housing - because her monthly income put her $58.00 over the maximum income for public assistance. 

Ultimately, she was having trouble coming up with the money for rent, which was $1000 per month. Since she was not able to pay rent the month before and could not pay the outstanding fees for the months when she paid days late (though in full), she was looking at a near $3000 payment for the next month's rent. However, she had lived in this apartment as a good tenant otherwise for over 5 years. So, after advocating for her with the landlord, he agreed to take half of the payment that was due and wipe the rest away. 

But when this agreement is made, this client was due to have her baby in 2 weeks. So we began our race against the clock to pay the rent before the baby arrived. She had $1000, so we needed to find $500. Soon we found $300, but when I called the landlord, he refused to take $1300 for rent. But I knew it was worth another try, and when I called again with a different tone, he changed his mind and agreed to the $1300. There was a catch, though; when I told her to get the agreement writing, the landlord clarified that it would $1300 up front, but then $300 per week. That would leave our client with $17 per month! Given that she would have three children and all her other bills, including food, I told her that living with this agreement was not feasible. I called the landlord again to argue that this is impossible; it is not legal for even wage garnishment for debtors to leave someone with that little left! But as we argued with the landlord, he changed his mind again and said, "Forget you, we will just evict her!" 

At first, I wanted to fight it - and it would have been legally right to do so! When I consulted with a lawyer on the matter, they agreed that the landlord had gone about this the wrong way. He never sent her a five day notice until she was 2 months behind, and until she had a 5 day notice she could not get help. But at that time the situation was starting to look bleak. All along I had told her it might just be best to use the money she did have to move into a house. Finally, when it was 3 days before she was due and the matter still had not been settled, she agreed reluctantly that moving into a house was the best idea given the situation. 

She quickly found a house. She needed to move in fast because, by that time, the baby was due; but she had not gotten paid yet that month and she had no one to pack and move her belongings. So we called her landlord to explain that, although she did not have enough to cover all of the first month's rent and the security deposit at the moment, she would after her paycheck. The landlord understood and accepted a money order so that she could get the key early. Then we recruited some goodhearted church members to help her move. She had the baby two days after everything was settled, and they got to go home to their new house without any issues. 

"That is  my idea of every step of adversity it seemed like there was no possible way, but through determination - we made it."

Now doesn't that make you want to punch your fist in the air in triumph? Cuddle a bunny? Shout from the rooftops? Or just hug your kids a little tighter and thank God for good people? For all the difficulty we see here at FFC and in Lake County, those successes make all the difference :)

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