By Lauren Hollon Sturdy
Leticia Tellez is a single mom, practically speaking. Her husband is in jail for an unpaid speeding ticket and without him, the family is barely making ends meet. He worked at a scrap metal place and brought in extra income on the side doing work as an auto mechanic. The carport next to their home served as a makeshift shop where he stored his tools.
Today the carport is empty; Tellez had to pawn every last piece of equipment to feed three of their four children who live in the United States (their oldest son moved to Mexico earlier this year).
Tellez owns a small business selling elotes (corn topped with butter, mayonnaise, chili with lemon and parmesan cheese) from a pushcart. Now that all the tools have been pawned, the money she makes from her little pushcart, along with disability payments for her youngest son’s learning disability and food stamps, keeps her family afloat. On an average day she’ll sell about 30 corn cobs. She charges $2 per ear and makes about $20 profit per day.
She ran into trouble recently when her cart broke down. It was old to begin with – her husband bought it used from the scrap yard he worked for – and when she went to the Family Hope Center to ask for help with repairs, the staff decided it would be better to buy a new one.
“We surprised her with it,” said Becci Ruiz, case manager at the Hope Center.
The Hope Center has been a steady presence for good in the family’s life. Tellez brings her children in the summer to the feeding program and to Vacation Bible School. She has improved the way she manages her finances and business by taking “Paz Financiera” classes (the Spanish version of Dave Ramsey’s popular “Financial Peace University”) and business classes at the center.
She learned to sew at the center and works with other ladies to bring in extra income by selling bags made of Mexican fabric. She’s also a dedicated volunteer any time she’s needed at events.
“It’s different here [in this community] than it was before,” Tellez said. “At Buckner, we’re all able to come together and fellowship, but they also help us, and we help them, so it’s beneficial to both.”
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