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Living in a station wagon in the dead of winter was the last thing Renay and Ronald expected only few months earlier, when both parents were working and settled into a stable life in New Mexico. But then, Ronald lost his job and wasn’t able to find anything else. And the couple, victims of a horrific crime several years earlier, were advised to move away from the area by local authorities when the person responsible was about to be released from prison.
Undaunted, the Renay and Ronald and their two young children set their sights on a new beginning in Washington state, where family had promised a place to live while the couple got back on their feet. They had significant work experience and assumed they would be on their own in no time, but even temporary work was hard to come by.
One day, out of the blue, the family they were staying with asked them to leave. That November night, they became homeless. For the next six weeks, the Georges spent each day focused on survival, never knowing where they might sleep that night, or whether they would be able to eat. During nights spent in the car, Renay and Ronald wrapped seven-year-old Achillis and and 10-year-old Angel in blankets, while the couple put on heavy sweatshirts. That’s when Achillis started wearing extra socks – a ritual that continues to this day, no matter the weather. Six weeks is a long time when you’re only seven years old.
Ready to give up, the family called 211, and only a few days later, found out they would be moving into a Hopelink shelter. Both Renay and Ronald immersed themselves in Hopelink programs, and within two weeks, each had found a job. They enrolled their children in school and started taking steps to get their finances in order – joining Express Credit Union, following a budget and saving money toward permanent housing. With their income tax return, they paid off their car and other debts. Renay completed Hopelink’s Money Smart Class while applying for low-income housing programs.
Then one day, Renay started dropping things at work. At home, she burned her hands under the faucet, unable to feel the water temperature. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome was only the beginning of a slew of new medical challenges. Renay had always been healthy, but things started cascading. A routine eye exam revealed keratoconus, which affects her vision and may lead to blindness. And she was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor and sleep apnea, and may have a detached retina.
It’s a lot to handle, but Renay says they’re not giving up. While she focuses on her health, Ronald has set his sights on fulltime work – which would enable the family to move into their own place.
“Hopelink saved my family,” Renay said, “and we're ready to move on. Hopelink gives you learning tools so you don't ever have to be homeless again. We've been through a lot. But Hopelink was there for us.”