The Markentell Family Makeover
"When you have to walk everywhere you need to go, including to work, upgrading to an adult tricycle makes a huge difference!"
Through unfortunate set of circumstances, Aaron Markantell found himself without hope, living in the Iberia Parish homeless shelter and in desperate need of a job. Escape From Poverty, a Lafayette faith-based, Christ-centered organization, was able to equip Aaron with exactly what he needed to help him out of his situation. They provided him with a correct path of action plus a big head start towards improving his financial and personal well-being both now and in long-term.
When Aaron joined the Escape From Poverty program, he was first introduced to his personal mentor, his personal budget counselor and the exact training that he would need to quickly remedy his seemingly-hopeless situation.
Aaron has learned how to find and secure a job by taking Escape From Poverty Job Smarts classes, and having taken the Money Smarts Classes and having completed the assignments, he now knows all the actions and habits needed to effectively manage his money and live on a budget. Perhaps most importantly however, he has learned first-hand, the huge benefit of trusting in God, and was instructed how to do so in his weekly Spiritual Smarts Classes. These classes are held in New Iberia at First Baptist Church in collaboration with Word of Hope and Highland Baptist churches.
Aaron has become much more confident around people now that he has taken the People Smarts Classes. He was able to immediately put those skills into practice, using his new network of friends, the Christ-centered volunteers and supporters that make up Escape From Poverty Program Team.
So, when Aaron’s mentor and budget counselor learned he had no transportation, his team began to do what it does best. They came together to coordinate a collective garage sale to benefit all of the New Iberia Escape From Poverty class participants. From the proceeds they were able to purchase a “ride” for Aaron in the form of an adult tricycle. With his new-found transportation, Aaron has been on several job interviews with the city of New Iberia. He now has the CDL permit and is certified for both regular & handicap buses.
Aaron’s wife Della says “Aaron drives his tricycle all the way across town, starting at 4:00 am, even in the dead of winter, to get to his bus, which he then takes to pick up kids for school. Although he’s only a substitute at this point, he’s been working every day, Monday through Friday. He says “I finally found my niche – it’s so much fun – it’s like I’m not even working. I love this job so much!” Della said that since joining the New Iberia Escape from Poverty program, Aaron is a different man. “He’s now happy and energetic; his personality, desires, and attitude have changed. These changes have kept the family together. My son said he was blown away – he had never heard his dad laugh!” Aaron and Della had separated because of Aaron’s apathy and depression, and Della decided she just had to stop enabling him. They had gone from church to church but had received mostly rejection and felt ashamed. “We just couldn’t find God’s people”, she said. “When we found the EFP program, we were scared to trust and reach out, but now we know we have finally found God’s people – a whole group of people of different races and denominations who are all working to help and love on people.” They also attend Word of Hope Church, and just can’t say enough good about Pastor Zack Mitchell. Della says these changes have also motivated their 16 year old disabled son to want to go college, and that her joy is back. She was amazed that even with the flood our area went through (the EFP office was shut down August through January), God still used us to create change. She told me “don’t ever quit! – you don’t realize that this program changes not only the lives of the participants in the program, but it creates a ripple effect among their families and friends.”
Aaron on his tricycle
Tarah and Her Team Make it Happen!
Tarah was raised in a stable middle class family but came to us in situational poverty, due to some choices she made. She went through a rebellious phase during her teenage years and ended up with two boys out of wedlock. She had been on her own, struggling and homeless in Atlanta. Finally, her uncle in Louisiana offered to take her in, so she came to our area and lived between her uncle and his girlfriend, grandmother, father, and a hotel. Once coming to Louisiana, Tarah got involved in a dynamic church – Hope Alive, and her life began to transform. It was while hearing a presentation about EFP at that church that Tarah decided to join our program.
Once in the program, challenge #1 was to help her with furniture, then child care so she could attend our classes. EFP volunteers stepped up, and Tarah became a very committed, dependable participant in the program, as well as joining the worship team and a small group Bible study at Hope Alive.
She enrolled in college business courses while working full time as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She wants to work in an office environment and someday start a business that helps others to avoid the kinds of mistakes she has made. The accountability and support she received from her team strengthened her – her friends now call her “The Budget Queen.”
Tarah was recently contacted by her sister in Virginia who wanted Tarah to move in with her there to help. The two sisters have always been very close. Because of her new budgeting skills, Tarah was able to save up $800, which paid for her move and deposit on an apartment in Virginia. EFP volunteers helped her move and stored furniture for her during the process.
She is now stable and independent, paying her own bills. She has reunited with her loving family, has already joined a church, and is choosing a lifestyle of abstinence while looking for a job. Please pray for her continued success.
Ammie joined our program while working as a dishwasher. During a class in our People Smarts series we did a career assessment, during which Ammie realized her strong compassion and love for the elderly could earn her more money as a sitter. So, after investigating those options, she accepted a new job in Baton Rouge as a sitter, where she has family. She went from $8 per hour to $12 per hour, which makes her officially out of poverty. Please pray for Ammie in her new life.