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Meet our neighbors, the Torres-Guzman family

Dec 31, 2018|Written By: Dylan Rosenthal

When you give to Abundant Life, you make an investment, trusting God to use us to spread the Gospel, empower Prospect families and better our community. Your financial gifts help us support our neighbors, like the Torres-Guzman family.

In 2015, Benny, Adelina, and their two sons moved into a new Habitat for Humanity duplex next to our White House. One evening, seeing a group of children playing with adults and teenagers in the yard, Adelina came over to see what this group was. She explained in a mix of Spanish and English that she was looking for activities for her 17-year-old son Javier, who has special needs, and her 10-year-old son Cristian.

SUPPORTING OUR NEIGHBORS

We enrolled Cristian in VBS and the 5/8 Club Summer Program and enlisted Javier’s help with both. We also registered Javier in STRIVE and matched him with a mentor for his senior year of high school. In STRIVE, students define their educational, career, financial, and personal goals, and mentors help them create a step-by-step plan to reach them. As someone with a developmental disability, Javier’s main goal was somewhat unique: to make friends.

That May, as I drove Javier home, I asked him what friends he had made. He rattled off six names, all fellow STRIVE participants. He was right; he had found a community in which he truly belonged.

Both Cristian and Javier thrived in our programs. Cristian became a regular at the 5/8 Club and tutoring, and Javier faithfully attended all STRIVE events, including the fall retreat and Spring Break College Road Trip. That May, as I drove Javier home from a STRIVE outing, I asked him how his goal of making friends was coming along. He replied, “It’s going great!” I asked him what friends he had made. He rattled off six names, all fellow STRIVE participants. He was right; he had found a community in which he truly belonged.

A LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP

After graduating, Javier intended to enroll at Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center for job training, but he and his family didn’t understand the bureaucratic process. To make matters worse, his employer had reduced his hours to only 3 per week. He and I met with a counselor at the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, and DARS set him up with a job coach and put him on the Wilson waiting list. Later he attended Wilson, was hired by UVA, and he’s now working 30-35 hours per week! In addition, Cristian just secured his first job through Community Attention Youth Internship Program with the help of his STRIVE mentor Mark and Coordinator Richard Feero.

The Torres-Guzmans are just one example of the Prospect families we are privileged to walk alongside, and your support makes our work possible. We thank you for your partnership, and may you be blessed in the new year!

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