For 19 years, I worked for U.S. Government agencies and private businesses in Sao Tome and Cape Verde.
In 2013, my family and I (six people) moved to Boston and were able to successfully adjust to life in the U.S. I had always worked in office settings, but in the U.S., due to sudden hardship situations in my family, I had to take on three temporary jobs as dishwasher, baker and cleaner in order to provide for my wife and four children.
Unfortunately, things did not work out as we expected. My wife had serious health issues during a pregnancy. Nevertheless, our baby girl was born here in Boston in 2014. Sadly we lost our source of income and couldn’t pay our rent. The situation became dire.
In addition to our extreme hardship at the time, my mom and dad passed away in 2015 and 2016 consecutively. I had tears in my eyes because I was unable to travel out of the U.S. for the funerals.
We contacted Catholic Charities in 2016 for help, and we were able to get some assistance with food and clothing for the family. Even though we were not able to receive assistance for our rent, our caseworker showed us care by driving to our house in Everett to deliver additional clothing for the kids.
Behind on our rent and monthly bills, we then lost our apartment in Everett and were placed in a shelter in Springfield 100 miles away from Boston. While we lived in the shelter during 2017, my family was approved for a public housing voucher, for which we had applied in 2014. We tried to return to Boston, but we couldn’t afford the security deposits and related fees required by the landlords.
In February 2018, we found an apartment in Dorchester, and the landlord was willing to work with my family to move in. However, we still needed to pay the security deposit. We reached out to Catholic Charities and shared our current situation and needs.
Basic Needs Program Manager Manuel Pires responded promptly and made an exception to pay $1,000 towards the security deposit. Our caseworker Celsa Barbosa worked patiently with my family throughout the process, and we were able to move into our new home. Celsa also helped my family to receive food, clothing and financial coaching from Catholic Charities.
We are immensely grateful to Catholic Charities, especially to the staff above, for responding promptly to my family in our time of need.
I cannot finish my testimony without sharing a true example of a great heart and passion for helping others from the staff of Catholic Charities and surely a helping hand moment that we will never forget:
I was invited for an event at Catholic Charities Dorchester. The few parking spots inside the yard were full, so I had to park my 1999 Honda van on the street for 30 minutes to an hour. When the event finished, I walked to where I had parked and my van was gone. I was shocked and walked home thinking how will I get my van back (my family depended on our old van for everything). With no money to cover the costs of what happened, I contacted our caseworker and program manager to report the incident and found out that it was street cleaning day.
Our caseworker Celsa Barbosa offered $100 from her pocket to cover the cost of getting my van back. She drove to our house to hand the $100 and gave me a ride to the towing place to get the van. My family and I were deeply touched by her genuine great heart, sacrificing her own pocket and time to get our van.
Thank you so much for all your support. Sincerely, A grateful client. (Name has been withheld to protect the person’s privacy.)