Twenty people in one house. Erica Martinez, mother of three young children, ages 2 to 7, was living with her mother, sibilings, and cousins in a very small home in Phoenix. The family was squeezed into tiny rooms, sleeping on the floor.
“It was very difficult,” says Erica. “With that many people in the house, there was no room to do anything. We would eat on the floor, taking turns sitting outside when it got too crowded. Ultimately, there was just no room for my family.”
Erica was desperate to get her own place. But with no job, no income, and no resources, she had to rely on her family for support.
Her children’s father had deserted the family, and, now, she was struggling to survive with three small kids. “I had a dream of a nice house, married, with a white picket fence, but that’s not how my life turned out.”
“I was nearly hopeless,” she continues. “I was trying to think of where to turn. A friend mentioned A New Leaf. And that’s how things changed.”
She discovered A New Leaf’s La Mesita Family Homeless Shelter. She called the hotline and was told to check in at 8 am in the morning to see if any units were available. But Erica knew she had to go the extra mile.
She persuaded her cousin to drive her to the shelter so she could be first in line. Erica arrived at 5:30 am and waited for the doors to open. Unfortunately, there were no units ready that day.
Then she did it again. The next morning, she got up early and had her cousin drive her to the shelter early. Once again, there were no units available.
For four straight days, she arrived early to be first in line. The fifth day proved to be her turning point, as a unit had just become available. She was accepted into the shelter.
“I couldn’t believe it, she recounts. “I was happy beyond words. Finally, my kids and I had a place of our own.”
Erica moved into the shelter, and within a couple of weeks, through the help of the La Mesita staff, she found a job at a bakery in Chandler.
“I am so grateful to the La Mesita staff,” Erica says. “They have been wonderful. They are respectful and patient. They carry your problems. They are genuine and very hard working.”
“Everything I do I do for my kids,” she says. “They give me motivation.” Erica says her kids are doing much better. “They are finally sleeping at night and are more calm. They have structure in their lives.”
Erica recently graduated from La Mesita and is now living in a new apartment. The La Mesita staff helped her save money and create a budget. They also helped her create a resume and apply for jobs. She is proud of her achievements.
“I couldn’t have done it without the help of the staff,” she says. “They were there for me when no one else was. I owe everything to them. There is hope out there for struggling families.”
You can help families and change lives by making a donation. Donate to A New Leaf by calling 480-464-4648 or make a donation online at turnanewleaf.org. Your help is needed to help families in their journey to independence. Make a donation today.