On July 1st of this year I was assigned to photograph Maria Gil and her daughter for a preview story about a donation drive at Family Promise, a homeless shelter where they were staying. Being relatively new to Lubbock, I had never heard of Family Promise, so I was interested to learn what it was: an interfaith volunteer organization that supports a few homeless families at a time and helps them get back on their feet by providing shelter, food, daycare, and transportation as they work to save money. Right away I knew there was a deeper story to be told. I chatted with Maria for a bit and was impressed with her positive attitude and hope. I told her I wanted to tell her story and asked if she would let me be a fly on the wall as she lived at Family Promise and went through the process of finding a place to live. That night I began shadowing her. On Sunday, the 5th of July, she was in tears as she called to tell me she was moving out. It was then that her story really began. For six weeks Elliott and I shadowed her as she struggled with homelessness. Below is the multimedia that went along with Elliott Blackburn's story - Happy Who Endure (it's a great story!).
I've been in touch with Maria many times since working on the story. Her and Angelina seem to be doing well. Angelina enjoys her mornings at preschool and Maria has been attending Bible study. There spirits are up. I know she was glad to have the story (finally) run because she kept saying how she hopes it gives strength to others who may be in a similar situation.