On a hot summer night in 2017, in a dark McDonald’s parking lot nearly empty while the fast food hotspot is closed, there sits one small car. Inside the car are three people: Monique Lewis, Micah Lewis, and Monet Lewis.

Micah and Monet are Monique’s two young kids. They have no shelter besides their car.

“It broke my heart that my kids and I only had my car,” Lewis says.

At this point, rough nights like this aren’t unusual for Monique and her kids. They have been struggling since the year 2001 when Monique lost her job and got divorced. Things went downhill for the next 16 years. Monique took care of her kids full-time while going from job to job, trying to make a change in her life.

Monique Lewis is no stranger to struggle. She grew up in a broken, low-income home. Her father left the family when she was eight, and her mother and grandmother who raised her both died when Monique was 18. Freshly an adult, just finishing high school, Monique and her sister were left with just each other and no one else.

In the summer of 2017, it seemed like her life of struggle and poverty was about to get even worse. The Lewis family had been using vouchers at hotels across Orange County in order to be able to afford staying at them. On July 15th, the Lewis family had reached the max amount of vouchers they were able to use for that month. Monique Lewis wasn’t sure where she and her kids were going to stay.

The next day Monique had to get on the phone for a quick interview. Given the circumstances, she felt dejected during the call but did her best to keep it together. She had hoped she would get the job but she wasn’t counting on it because of things seemed to be on a continuous downward spiral.

Turns out, Monique Lewis was wrong. She got a phone call the next day saying she’d gotten the job. And she got one other phone call…from the HomeAid Family CareCenter. That is the call that she says changed her life. Lewis found out that her family had been accepted to live in the newly opened Family CareCenter.

“Things just never got really stable for us until after HomeAid,” Lewis explains while getting emotional.

From that point on, things started looking better for Monique’s family. They found an affordable apartment, Monique got a raise, and her children decided they wanted help out so the eldest got a job while the youngest helped out at home.

“I’ve never told God to bless someone through homelessness like he did with me and my kids. But without Mercy House and Homeaid Orange County we wouldn’t have made it.”

**Story written by 2020 Intern, Nicholas Reyes**