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Special Report - Children of Hope

Help for the Homeless

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Posted: Nov 12, 2012 9:29 PM

Updated: Nov 14, 2012 2:49 PM

McALLEN - Poverty and homelessness are serious problems in the Rio Grande Valley, experts say. Still, some families are escaping that cycle thanks to the help of social and government agencies.

Jamie Pratt's family got that chance. Pratt and her six children now have a place to call home.

The family spent four months at the Salvation Army shelter in McAllen. The family moved to the Valley after the children's father, Oscar Baez, was deported to Mexico.

Baez, an illegal immigrant, lived and worked in Alabama for more than 10 years before federal authorities deported him.

"It's hard on my children. They're missing their daddy. They want their daddy here," Pratt said.

The Advocacy Resource Center helped Pratt and her children move into their home.

The children include 7-year-old Angel and her 8-year-old sister Maria.

"It's really good. I feel comfortable," Angel said of her new home

She said her home is much better than the Salvation Army shelter.

"I was cold. I felt like I wanted a new house," she said.

Pratt's rent is $657 a month. The Resource Center covers $500 of that for three months.

Pratt has a job at Amigos del Valle where she makes $8 an hour.

"I'm nervous, but I'm going to try my best to work and get all the hours I can and save money, pinch it, so I won't lose the house," Pratt said.

"The immediate need is to sustain themselves," Janie Maldonado said. She runs the center that helped Pratt and her family find their house. The center helped more than 560 families in 2011.

"We are trying to catch the families before they reach that stage of hopelessness," Maldonado said.

The center offers case management, education and assistance with money for rent and utilities, Maldonado said. It's a lifeline for those who dare to persevere.

The Advocacy Resource Center is just one of the many non-profit and government agencies in the Valley that help families find a way out of poverty or homelessness.

The center will host its second annual Homeless Heart Dinner and Silent Auction Nov. 30 at the Cornerstone Grill in Edinburg. Tickets are $40 per person. For more information about the event, call Wesley Walsman at 956-639-0644.

Topics: jamie pratt, oscar baez, advocacy resource center, mcallen, janie maldonado

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