When Julian and Carolina came to La Paz, they had reached the end of their rope. They told us it seemed as if nothing would go right for them.
Julian had been working for a painting company nearly seven years and despite his hard work, never progressed past his starting pay. Since his pay didn’t increase with inflation, his budget became tighter and tighter until he had to begin borrowing money from his boss.
“It was to the point where I wasn’t earning money at my job, I was just going into debt.”
After making the difficult decision to switch jobs, he contracted Covid and was suddenly out of work for two weeks, but those two weeks set them back too far. His wife, Carolina, worked part-time as an assistant housekeeper but they couldn’t survive on her pay alone. They began by selling items in their home, and picking up extra jobs where they could.
“At one point our children were sleeping on air mattresses and we were sleeping on the floor.”
They sought out financial assistance programs, many of which were just small stipends, and others were fronts for scams that prey on people in vulnerable situations like Julian and Carolina. With their eviction looming, they continued to search for solutions.
“At that point we were desperate.”
It wasn’t until Julian and Carolina were referred to La Paz by a partnering agency that they could envision a glimmer of hope. Through an Emergency Solutions Grant by way of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, La Paz was able to rehouse them and cover their rent expenses for a six month period. But they met us in the middle.
Six months later, Julian and Carolina come into the La Paz offices with a more relaxed, confident attitude. They say they have learned a lot of lessons through this difficult chapter.
“What’s most important to us right now is making our sacrifices and the help La Paz has given us, worth it. We have a roof over our children's heads. We ourselves would have slept under a bridge if it came to that, but we just couldn’t do that to the kids.”
Julian has begun his own painting business, he says, with the help of the money he was able to set aside as a result of the rental assistance.
“I’m buying all my equipment little by little, and building up my client base.”
Just like everyone else, Angelina says, there are good days and bad days. “It’s easy to critique someone, but we can never fully see what another person is going through.”
Julian and Carolina’s advice to folks in similar situations? Make sure you are being wise with the tools you’re given.
“We’ve been able to use the money we saved to help push ourselves forward, and we encourage others to do the same. Make the help worth it.”
But overall, they say, their advice is to always act from a place of love, and trust that the goodness of people will be returned to you.
“My mother always told me I should help others, but never expect it in return from the same person; someone else will come along who will be able to help you.”
Pay it forward, and do it with love in your heart.
To support work like this at La Paz Chattanooga, consider a donation here.