JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In life, it’s the little things that count like a bed and a roof over your head. Those are things U.S. Navy veteran Vanessa Earl and her 3-year-old daughter Faith lost six months ago when Hurricane Irma struck the First Coast.
“The hurricane came and it was just like the final blow, so I was feeling really, really helpless,” Earl said.
The single mother had nowhere to go after their home flooded.
“Waking up in the middle of the night to go to the restroom, you put your feet down and now you’re in a puddle of water inside your home,” she said.
A month later, her prayers were answered when Jewish Family and Community Services, a non-profit organization stepped in to help.
“[They] took me and my daughter with what we had on our backs, no bags, no nothing,” Earl said.
Colleen Rodriguez, the CEO of Jewish Family, said the organization has helped more than 500 families like Earl.
“Got them food, got a hotel, we had to go to the store and buy them some basic clothes just until we could dig a little deeper and find out what we needed to do long-term,” Rodriguez said.
Not just a roof over her head, but a new home for her and her daughter to grow up in. Earl moved into her new home a little over a week ago. She might have lost everything, but along the way, she found hope, love and never lost faith.
“I am thankful that it happened and that I can share it and help other people," she said.
There are still 65 families without a permanent home on the First Coast. But several community partners came together and developed Florida's First Coast Relief Fund, which includes United Way, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the duPont Foundation and private donors. This fund allowed organizations like Jewish Family, who work within the financial assistance system, to be able to get resources quickly to those most impacted by Hurricane Irma.