United Way providing second chances

Mervyn and Melena were happily married and expecting their third child when they were surprised by a premature birth. Their newborn baby boy had serious medical issues and Mervyn needed time away from work to be at the hospital with his family. After a month in the NICU, Mervyn’s employer let him go, they were evicted from their home and their car was repossessed. After borrowing as much money that they could and exhausting their savings, Mervyn and Melena were in a hole they couldn’t get out of.

But thanks to the generosity of our donors, United Way has convened with The Salvation Army Lakeland and West Polk to offer the Family Emergency Efficiencies program. After checking into the shelter, Mervyn found a job and his family was able to start saving money again. Through weekly case management meetings, Mervyn and Melena began to work through some of the struggles they faced trying to raise their family.

“No more going to bed hungry and no more staying in a motel that had a log of dangerous activity going on,” Mervyn said. “The moment our children walked in here they kept telling me how excited they were to have a bedroom with their own beds.”

The family was recently accepted into the Salvation Army Family Living Program that provides transitional housing and are looking forward to building their credit, continuing to save and owning their own home someday.

“I just can’t thank this program and its staff enough for the many things that they have done to help us get ourselves back on the right path,” Melena said.