From Swallowing Pride To Making Strides

Number of Children… 6

Ended Homelessness… January 2014

A three-day eviction notice and six children… What are two parents to do when suddenly faced with homelessness? 

Martin and Lalana Reyes lived in a stable home with their six children for years, but when Martin lost his job in a massive company layoff, the family's living situation turned unpredictable. In an instant, the couple could not confidently foresee that the apartment they had called home for several years would remain the roof over their heads. Then, their worst fears came true.

Vowing to protect their children by keeping their financial struggles a secret, the couple—carrying the stress and fear of becoming homeless on their shoulders—quietly launched job hunts. Martin searched for another sales position, while Lalana, a stay-at-home mom, looked for work to help contribute to her family's financial crisis, as well as designed a new family plan to accommodate for her future time away from the household.

As a father, husband, and as a man, I felt helpless...

Martin succeeded in landing a commission-based sales job that would earn him approximately $4,000 per month. However, the gap in employment proved devastating for the family's living situation.

During the limbo period between jobs, the family fell behind on their rent. When handed a three-day eviction notice, they knew they had to act immediately to protect their family. Swallowing his pride, Martin reluctantly accepted that his family needed additional support. On the verge of homelessness, the Reyes family called Project Hope Alliance.

Case Manager Chrissie met with Martin and Lalana to listen to their problems and develop a plan. The Reyeses joined Project Hope Alliance's Family Stability Program, which provided them with rental assistance and emotional support. Offering empathy, encouragement and praise, Chrissie helped uplift the family and restore self-confidence in both parents. The already academically-focused and thriving children enrolled in our education program, which, paired with extra nurturing from Chrissie, helped boost self-worth and introduce the outgoing bunch to new opportunities.

"We watched their eyes light up as they described their passion for science and engineering that they had now been exposed to," says Project Hope Alliance Case Manager Sam Cressey. "Introducing the girls to more experiences and fields of learning has helped to inspire them and encourage them to dream big. They were always so excited to share their day's activities with our case managers."

The young group benefited from Art 4 Healing art therapy classes, Shakespeare in the Park at UC Irvine, and a recent trip to Discovery Cube. Sisters Kalara and Maria happily participated in Girls Inc.'s summer program on a full scholarship, where they attended workshops in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), mental health, body image, and more. They took a special liking to the science classes. 

Kalara also attended Orange Coast College's Start Right Academy, which exposes youth between ages 9 and 17 to various educational and career opportunities. Her inspiring speech at the program's conclusion centered around opportunity and dreaming big.


If I set my mind to it, I can go to the stars. If I keep focused on it, I may someday be responsible for the latest technological advancement. If I am dedicated enough, I may be responsible for a scientific discovery currently unknown to man.

Four weeks ago, I never heard of aerospace manufacturing or engineering. I never thought of the possibilities for someday being responsible for travel beyond our planet’s solar system. I never thought about being the creator and not just a user of technology. And I never thought of the unlimited possibilities available to young women like myself who simply decide that we will follow our dreams instead of being relegated to standardized thinking. I can do anything I want, and that is the most important thing I learned over the past four weeks. So, when you see me again, don’t be surprised by how much I’ve accomplished. Once you’ve learned about dwelling among stars, is there truly anyplace you can’t go, or anything you can’t do? I realized that I will do what matters to reach my dreams, serve my family and community, and make a difference in the world that truly belongs to my generation. Thank you.

 

Their sister Ramira participated in GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), a two-week summer camp hosted by Global Girls Rising in Santa Ana that harnesses the power of emotional digital storytelling. She quickly made friends, and starred in and directed various peer projects. Organizers noted her extraordinary experience with the program, and have asked her to become a GLOW ambassador in her hometown in Orange County.

With the immense stress of losing his home lifted, Martin joined a new company with increased hours and room for growth. Currently, he earns almost double what he made before struggling with unemployment. Lalana continued working at her new job until the department closed. A blessing in disguise, the layoff allows her to do what she loves: care for her happy family. 

The Reyeses eventually graduated from our Family Stability Program and transitioned to only our education program. We have continued to help round out the children's learning by connecting them with additional extracurricular activities.

Motivated and amicable throughout our relationship, the Reyeses are avid encouragers for our team and continue to respond with various acts of gratitude. Ramira gifted Chrissie a handmade rainbow bracelet as a thank you, and Martin emailed this beautiful message to Chrissie:

Please extend my most deepest (and embarrassed) gratitude to La Shawn and your whole staff for this gracious act of charity. Someway somehow we will repay this act of kindness through donations and volunteering with your organization. We have always shared of our blessing with others in similar situations as us, yet never envisioned we’d be the ones on the opposite set of such circumstances. As a father, husband, and as a man I felt helpless and knew I had to seek help. I didn’t want to commit any crimes or endanger my family. I set my pride aside and called you guys. Thank you again.