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“I lost everything,” Maria said tearfully. “My family came apart. I had no money, no job, nowhere to live.”
Maria Pastrana was overwhelmed the day she and her three daughters moved into a Hopelink shelter; angry at having to leave the life she had helped build over the past 16 years, and in a panic at becoming the family breadwinner despite a dearth of work experience.
Maria had grown up in a family with episodes of domestic violence and promised herself that would never happen to her. So when the dangerous pattern started to emerge in her own marriage, she intensified her efforts to make it work.
“I wanted to keep my family together,” she said. “I wanted my children to have what I didn’t have.” Eventually denial and determination gave way to reality, and Maria found the courage to leave. Maria sold what few possessions she had but couldn’t afford a place of her own. The strain of her crumbling marriage had left her deeply depressed and sick, but with three daughters to support, checking out was not an option.
Maria and her children found refuge – and a new beginning – at Hopelink. They moved into the Redmond shelter and Maria began meeting weekly with Hopelink Case Manager Linda Tappen, setting goals and reviewing her progress. Slowly, her stress and fear dissolved, and in only six months, Maria found a new fulltime job in childcare, paid off a car loan and other debts, and saved enough to move into a new apartment with her 11-year old daughter. The safety net she found at Hopelink also garnered her a clean bill of health from her doctor.
Maria’s older daughters share their mom’s resilience and determination, and both are fulltime college students who worked hard enough to earn scholarships. Both also hold jobs and are looking forward to a bright future.
Maria says that for the first time in her life, she feels she can support herself, and she is no longer defined by her past. She says she feels free, and strong enough to keep going no matter what comes her way.
“I can do it by myself as a woman and as a mom,” she said. “I understand there will be hard times, but I am strong enough, it will not be easy to make me fall. It wasn’t easy, but the hardest part is behind me now. If it wasn’t for Hopelink – and especially Linda – I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have.”