In 2015, Daniel and his wife left Venezuela to escape the violent and impoverished conditions. The United States represented safety, security, stability – a dream come true. Central Florida became their new home with new possibilities. Five years passed when they were happily surprised with the joy of the arrival of a new baby. A bright future was surely within reach.
Daniel’s wife was only a few months pregnant when their world and millions of others were devasted by the impacts of a novel pandemic. Nearly all the happiness they worked so hard to build was gone. Daniel received the news, “Your position at The Orlando International Airport will be furloughed.” Now crushed by uncertainty and embarrassed to realize, again, the harsh realities of poverty, Daniel and his wife struggled for the most basic of life’s necessities. As the pandemic continued to spread across our community and the past due bills piled higher, Daniel and his wife refused to succumb to lost hope.
A friend suggested they find help at The Sharing Center.
Daniel took his friend’s suggestion a week before Christmas. With worry on his face and heart, he met with Suzanne, lead service coordinator, to share his family’s struggles. They were growing weary their pantry would go bare and their past due bills would become too much. Christmas was so close and they had already dismissed enjoying the holiday as they have so many years before – a nice family dinner, gifts under the tree, and lots of joy throughout the home.
Overhearing Daniel’s story, a compassionate volunteer was inspired to help. “I’d like to buy your family Christmas presents this year. Would that be ok?”. Stunned, overjoyed, and humbled, Daniel was in grateful disbelief, “It was a very big, wonderful surprise for us when every single gift was there for my family.”
Driving away, they had more than they expected – enough food to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner and a car full of gifts from a stranger. Returning home, Daniel felt the spirit of giving in his heart. Close-by neighbors were experiencing hardships as well. Together, they enjoyed a shared Christmas meal.
We are reminded of the impact of sharing hope with our neighbors in need. A better day will come for thousands of our neighbors walking in dark and despairing circumstances of poverty and food insecurity – when we look out with compassionate eyes. Today, Daniel has returned to work and rebuilding a life for his wife and daughter.