Evena’s story is one that will always have a place in our hearts, as well as the hearts of the two remarkable families who helped her through her times of need. We believe her story of triumph can help motivate others to reach out and connect with the support available in their own communities.
You see, Evena is a single mom of two sons. Before coming to Florida, she was attending nursing school in the Dominican Republic. She came to America with her husband and son Andrew in hopes of a better life for her family, but after refusing her husband’s desire to abort an unplanned pregnancy she was left stranded and abandoned by her husband.
With nowhere to go, she began a cycle of being in and out of local shelters. In working to take steps forward, she found a job as a hairdresser serving people she knew, though, eventually Evena ran into hardship when her next shelter would not allow 17-year-old Andrew to accompany her due to his age. Finding herself stuck, Evena courageously reached out to our Safe Families team in SWFL. We were able to connect Evena with Debbie and Allen Legg, who were standing ready to serve their community. The Legg family subsequently took in a very respectful and grateful Andrew.
With Andrew cared for, Evena could move into the new shelter house she had arranged for. Unfortunately, the living conditions weren’t as she expected. It was not sanitary, nor was it a child-friendly environment for her second son, now a 2-year-old named Jayden. Then Evena’s situation took a turn for the worse. After having lived at this shelter for less than a week, she developed pneumonia and had to be admitted to the hospital.
Knowing Jayden would not be able to accompany his mother to the hospital, our team connected Evena with Johnny and Elizabeth Ceto, another family waiting in the wings to help the needy in their community. The Ceto’s selflessly acted as little Jayden’s host family during his mother’s stay at the hospital, which ended up being just a short four days. During his short stay, the Ceto family said that Jayden was shy in the beginning, but gradually opened up to them. They said they taught him how to “high five” someone and bought him new clothes and shoes. Upon being reunited with Jayden, Evena expressed her gratitude to the Ceto family for helping her son. Johnny Ceto stated, “If we can help a child for a few days to help his mom get well, that’s what we are here to do.”
Meanwhile, after hearing Evena was admitted to the hospital, the Legg family (who was still hosting Andrew) rushed to reach out to offer more help. Eventually, the Legg’s decided to open up their home to Evena and both of her sons. Not only did they host Evena and her boys, but they wanted to help her get back on her feet by going the next step to help with job searches and money saving practices.
Evena gratefully accepted and is currently working to build a foundation of support for her beautiful two boys.
Evena’s story is a powerful story of faith, of service, and of empowered communities. It acts as a light of hope for anyone in need of support, and a reminder that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Help is out there. There are people in your communities ready to lend a hand, but you have to take the couraeous step to connect when you need help.
Let us be your first call. Reach out to our team today.