August 26, 2020
When we last checked in with "Sophie," she was having trouble seeing the way forward on a path out of homelessness with her four children, even though she had already come very far.
She and her family were staying at Family Renew Community's Residential Campus in DeLand, not in the nearby woods as they were last fall. She was no longer unemployed. And her new job was not just any job; it was a position in a day care center that fit perfectly into her new studies for a degree in early childhood education. When Volusia County Schools didn't start back up for in-person learning after Spring Break to slow the spread of the coronavirus, her kids -- ages 6 to 12 -- could come to work with her.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic forced the day care to close, too, and Sophie, 35, came dangerously close to losing heart.
“I can’t even go look for a job, because I have four kids at home,” she said in March.
With Kim Bandorf, Family Renew's program manager in DeLand, in her corner, Sophie stayed on track.
Kim assured Sophie her place at Family Renew Community, rent-free and with no utilities to pay, was safe as long as she was actively engaged in finding solutions to her situation. Through the generosity of donors to Family Renew and the United Way, Sophie's family and the other homeless families at Family Renew got help with food and other essentials.
Eventually, the day care reopened and Sophie was back to saving money toward her move to permanent housing. She has $12,000 in the bank, and is up for a promotion at work. In early August, she and the kids moved into a rent-controlled apartment in DeLand.
"This is an amazing testimony of the power of Family Renew Community," says Executive Director Tony Deobil. "With a little bit of hand holding, some good direction, and a lot of love lives can be changed."