Starting a New Life: Johnny and Monica’s Journey to Stability
Monica Rodriguez knew her life was unsustainable. And not just for her, but for her entire family.
She and her boyfriend Johnny Rodriquez were struggling to make ends meet, and the situation was becoming more immediately dire. When they had to choose between paying the water or the electric bill, they moved themselves and their two children out of their home and into their car.
Each night, they searched for a safe place to park their car to sleep. And Monica never quite slept comfortably in the car.
“I was always afraid someone would find us and report us to child protective services,” Monica said. “I lived in fear that our children would be taken away.”
Monica got her kids ready for school in Starbucks bathrooms and hoped each day wouldn’t be the day they get taken from her, but the day they could start a new life.
Johnny and Monica looked everywhere for opportunities to change their life and protect their children. Eventually, they landed a spot on the Solutions for Change waiting list. And every time they drove by the Solutions facilities, they reminded their children that soon they would have a home.
The Rodriguez family’s first few days at Solutions for Change overwhelmed them with excitement, anxiety and most of all—hope.
“Once we got off the waitlist and onto the Solutions property, our family felt this instant boost,” Monica said. “We had housing and hot meals. You don’t know how life changing those can be until you don’t have them.”
Monica and Johnny jumped right into the work-related training program, where they developed leadership, teamwork and accountability skills in a real work environment. Alongside their work, the couple attended meetings and classes to strengthen their parenting and financial knowledge—all to provide a better life for their children.
The Rodriguez family was thriving at Solutions for Change. The children had recaptured their bright, energetic personalities. Johnny and Monica were succeeding in their work. And the whole family felt secure in their future.
Still, the future held another frightening hurdle for the family to overcome.
One day during work-related training, Johnny had to stop and hang back from everyone else. Something just didn’t feel right, and Johnny and Monica decided he should go to the doctor.
After multiple tests and scans, the doctors diagnosed Johnny with cancer. Through Johnny’s surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, Monica stood by his side with the support of their children and the entire Solutions for Change community.
“Knowing that Monica, our kids and I were in a place where we were supported and safe made my recovery easier,” Johnny said. “And it feels really good to say I’m now cancer free.”
Peace had returned to the Rodriguezes. After overcoming the darkest moments of life as a family, Johnny and Monica came out the other side even stronger and ready to build a wonderful new life.
“Johnny asked me to marry him mid-way through our time at Solutions,” Monica said. “And we got married on Solutions property with our fellow residents there. They’ve shown us so much love over the past few years, so they really are family.”
Since their wedding, the Rodriguez family has established a stable, happy life for themselves and their kids. They have their own warm, comfortable home. Johnny works for American General Tool Group. Their children are both doing well in high school.
And Monica is graduating from Solutions Academy in December 2020. While she’s wrapping up her program, she is also ushering in the newest Solutions clients as an Empowerment Aide.
“I love helping the new residents spread their wings,” Monica said. “With my perspective as someone at the end of the program, I can show others that they can overcome really hard things and find a life they never even knew was possible on the other side. And that solidarity is a really beautiful thing about Solutions.”
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