STUART, Fla. — There are more than 500 students in Martin County who are classified as homeless or in unstable housing. That number continues to grow as the pandemic goes on.
Family Promise, a nonprofit that keeps families who fell on hard times together, has fallen on tougher times as well.
Now, it's been brushed with a stroke of luck after an anonymous donor gave $5,000 in stimulus money.
Madeleine Bozone, the executive director of Family Promise of Martin County, said in these tough times to look for the "good." She was near tears as she read the letter from the donor.
"You want to cry with joy, because you are so grateful, because they were so selfless to share that with us for the families that need it most," she said.
Family Promise is a network of congregations that provide food, a safe place to sleep and transportation to families who have fallen on tough times. Bozone said the need is especially great now.
"There really is a lack of housing that is affordable for members of our workforce in Martin County," she said. "Our families come to us. They are hardworking families doing everything right. The amount they make just doesn't match any longer with the rising costs of rent."
Carmen Lopez and her teenage son arrived on Thanksgiving. She just heard about the donation.
"Wow, that puts tears to my eyes," she said. "That's awesome because this program is really, really good."
Lopez said she is grateful for the help of others. An additional stimulus check arrived at Family Promise just a week later, from another anonymous donor.
"She said, 'I don't need it. I know you do,'" Bozone said. "And she blessed us with another $1,400. It's a huge impact, because we really have had a hard time as a start up, nonprofit during COVID to raise funds. I can't tell you how much it means to us and how much we need it."
Lopez was eager to thank those who care about her family's well-being. The money will help house her and her son during this transitional period. Now, she wants to spread the word about a different kind of shelter changing her future.
"That's the big part of this program. They keep the family together," she explained. "They keep the male and female and children together, and they are not separated, and that really causes a hardship."