MARICELA NEVER IMAGINED herself to be in the situation she is in now. Last September, she lost her husband and her life has not been the same. Fighting back the tears, she shares, “To be honest, the first few months after my husband passed I didn’t feel the pressure. Now I feel anxious all the time. I never imagined I would be a single mother to 3 kids.” Maricela first came to MEND 17 years ago. She and her husband were having a hard time making ends meet. They had both lost their jobs and were desperate. MEND provided them with emergency food and clothing for 2 years – until they were able to get back on their feet. “We both had employment. I was working in housekeeping and my husband was a welder. We no longer needed emergency food,” Maricela adds. Unfortunately, early last year their financial situation became critical. Maricela’s husband no longer had a job and to make things worse, she grew a tumor in one of her hands. She needed surgery. Then, in September, the bottom fell out of their world. Maricela and her children lost their loving husband and father. She says, “His death was a shock. He was a healthy man. He was strong. It’s been difficult to adjust.” Maricela and her children found themselves back at MEND.
But this time, they didn’t just enroll for emergency food and clothes, Maricela also signed up for MEND’s Family Support Program, our case management program that helps families like Maricela’s break the cycle of poverty through supportive coaching, goal setting and connecting with resources. “MEND has been a place of healing for me. I’m making sure my children receive help through the grieving process. I’m looking for support myself. I miss him. I miss my partner. My support.” Maricela adds, “Thanks to MEND we are now receiving food twice a month. My children and I used to go days with an empty fridge. I have to explain to my daughter that things are different now. Our resources are scarce but we have each other and we’re a united family.” Although their situation is difficult, Maricela remains hopeful. “MEND has been a life saver. My family could not carry on without their supportive services. We’re still standing because of MEND.”