It’s an experience Erica said she’ll never forget – waking up in the middle of the night to evacuate her 32-year-old son Elliot, who has Down Syndrome, as Hurricane Maria ravaged their home in Puerto Rico.
“He was horrified,” Erica said of Elliot as she and her husband, Ruben, walked their son through knee-deep water to seek shelter at a nearby school.
“Our roof was leaking in the middle of the night, and when we arrived at the school, people were crying,” Erica said.
Erica, a special education teacher for 11 years, and Ruben, a history teacher for 35 years, had to leave Puerto Rico in the aftermath. They headed to Tampa and lived with Erica’s sister for two weeks as they waited to receive FEMA relief. When relief arrived, the family moved into a hotel in Altamonte Springs to be near their son, Eric, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Winter Park. After the family ran out of FEMA relief, they returned to Puerto Rico to see what they could salvage from their rental home. Erica said they lost everything, and their landlord refused to repair the home. So the family packed up what little personal belongings they had left and headed back to Florida to move in with Eric.
“He has four kids, so we were nine people in a one-bedroom apartment,” Erica said. “All of these changes made our son Elliot act up.”
After a month of sleeping on the floor in Eric’s apartment, the family was able to save money to secure low-income housing in Orlando and start over.
Erica said she met a woman at a laundromat who told her to seek help from The Mustard Seed for home furnishings.
“We came to Florida with only luggage,” Erica said. “So this is a blessing. We haven’t slept in a bed for three months. We’re just so happy to have a roof over our heads because when you have nothing, and are sleeping on the floor, at least you have a roof over your head.”
June 12, 2019
The Mustard Seed is proud to partner with RE:PURPOSE, a program that collects used and broken electronics in order to reduce hazardous e-waste going into our landfills. The devices will be refurbished, repurposed, and upcycled for children in low-income families.
It’s estimated that over 33 perc… read more
May 20, 2019
The Mustard Seed of Central Florida is proud to have received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. The Mustard Seed received the organization’s highest rating for demonstrating strong financial health and commitment to account… read more