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Success Stories

The Tolfree Family

Tolfree FamilyA single mother with four children, Lacie Tolfree dreamed of being a nurse but knew that was impossible. Then she joined the Children's Home Initiative, a supportive housing program for families with incomes below $20,000. With help from her case manager, Lacie moved into her apartment and enrolled her children in the free after-school program at the Community Learning Center. While there, she signed up for parenting classes and a money management course. She even opened a special savings account to help her with nursing school. After two years of long nights studying, Lacie earned her LVN and is working toward becoming an RN. "Take advantage of all the opportunities offered to you," she advises others who face the challenges she used to. "It's a limited time so just run with it." Showing off her framed diploma, Lacie is proud her children see her as a success. She dreams of buying a house and sending them to college, but for now she's happy to enjoy picnics and watching movies together.

The Mbaya Family

The Mbaya FamilyIn 2006, the Mbaya family arrived in Austin after nearly five years in a refugee camp in Zimbabwe after war forced them from their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With help from the Caritas refugee resettlement program and Central Presbyterian Church, Chantal and her five children have made a home with Foundation Communities. Employed as a hotel housekeeper, Chantal manages a very tight budget yet the family is exuberant with hope. Recently, one dream came true: Chantal’s husband Andre joined his family after being denied a chance to leave with his family. Chantal dreams of getting Sundays off so she can do “God’s work” and offer her thanks for all she has received.

The Gardner Family

Bruce Gardner and Sid StueweBruce and Ruby Gardner have had their taxes prepared at the Community Tax Centers for several years now. At 97 and 90 years old, the couple has witnessed many hard economic times. Yet, last year they helped a grandson get a loan to start his own business, assisted another grandchild with college and still found time to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. This year they needed some extra help preparing their taxes, so they turned to Sid Stuewe, a volunteer tax preparer for more than 30 years. With Sid's help, their complex tax form became simple. On departing, Mr. Gardner said," We'll be back next year!"