Juana Twenty years ago, Juana Alvelo fled poverty in the Dominican Republic and came to the U.S., seeking a better life. She eventually found it in Massachusetts, though she ended up a single mom of two young kids. Still, all was going well until just a few days after last Christmas, when a fire broke out in her apartment building.

Juana and her children, Jandaliz (8) and Jeremy (4), escaped safely, but the fire, smoke, and water destroyed almost everything — including toys the kids had just received for Christmas.

As she watched the building burn, Juana says she “felt like I was losing everything I had sacrificed so much for. It hurt to see it all ruined in the fire. All I could do was cry.”

But Juana, who had been attending the nearby Salvation Army church in Lawrence, knew where to turn. Even as the fire still burned, she called Major Eduardo Feliz, who immediately joined Juana and her kids on the sidewalk to offer comfort. He then offered the family a place to stay in the upstairs apartment at the corps community center. They ended up staying for three months, and received food, clothing, other donations — and new toys for the kids.

They have since moved out and into their own apartment, but Juana says her family would’ve been in big trouble without The Salvation Army. “They helped in so many ways. They ministered to me with food, prayer support, and more. If not for them, I would have nothing.”

Thank you so much for being there for Juana and her kids, and other families in crisis.