Empty Stocking: Recovering from fire


By Camri Nelson - cnelson@limanews.com



The Empty Stocking Fund benefits three cooperating agencies. Bradfield Community Center, Mizpah Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated by sending it to The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima Ohio 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will be accepted at The Lima News office. These stories use assumed names to protect the participants’ privacy. See past stories at LimaOhio.com/tag/emptystocking.

LIMA — Sept. 11, 2017, was the day that changed Justin’s life.

Six months after starting a home remodeling project in Lima, he said an arsonist burned down the house where all his tools were stored, leaving him empty handed. With no job, he lost his truck and couldn’t afford to pay the rent on his home in Brooklyn, New York.

After losing his job, he has spent the last few months trying to find stable employment so he can raise his 8- and 18-month-old daughters.

“When I lost my tools, I also lost my way to make money,” he said. “I was feeling some type of way about it but I told myself ‘don’t be embarrassed, go get help.’”

He took the advice of a friend and went to the Salvation Army in hopes of getting some extra assistance. From there he pulled together the money that he had and bought a house in Lima though the sheriff auction.

“When I took the plywood off the door, tears came to my eyes,” he said, “You couldn’t even be in here because of the all of the mold.”

He didn’t let those problems deter him for providing a home for his family. With the help of his neighbor, they got rid of the mold, repaired the ceiling and replaced a stolen furnace.

“We [he and his daughters’ mother] spent everything we had to get this place,” he said. “I’m trying to do what I can for them [his daughters].”

Even with all of his efforts, he has struggled to find and sustain a steady job. He has done volunteer work at a church and has worked side jobs, but because he was behind on child support for his other kids, his Commercial Driver’s License was suspended.

Fortunately he has since found employment in Wapakoneta but is looking for other job opportunities because it difficult for him to afford transportation each week to and from work without his car. This week he has had interviews with jobs that are walking distance from home.

“It ain’t easy being responsible,” he said. “Every time I decide I want to quit, I think about them. I’m restless, but I’m just so focused on trying to get this money.”

He hopes that by Christmas time he is able to come up with the money he needs to buy his children some gifts for Christmas. His daughters love Elmo and the daughters would be grateful to get any clothes that are sizes 9-12 months and 3T.

“I don’t even know what it is that I’m going to get them,” he said. “But if I have the money it would bring me joy because it would be to y’all [his daughters] from daddy.”

http://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/12/web1_EmptyStocking.jpg

By Camri Nelson

cnelson@limanews.com

The Empty Stocking Fund benefits three cooperating agencies. Bradfield Community Center, Mizpah Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated by sending it to The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima Ohio 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will be accepted at The Lima News office. These stories use assumed names to protect the participants’ privacy. See past stories at LimaOhio.com/tag/emptystocking.

Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews

Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews