From Successful Business Owner to Homeless and Heartbroken

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When Maria was 23 years old, living in California,  her mother gave her a house as a gift.  Maria loved working on her home, making improvements and then eventually selling it for a nice profit.  She decided she wanted to use the profit to invest in something for herself.  She opened up her own mini mart.  She did the research to learn how to have the mini mart built out - new electrical, new plumbing and more.  The mini mart did really well.  She was able to provide for herself.  She met her husband (who was from South America) and they had two children.  They decided to go into business together flipping houses.  Her husband was great at putting on new roofs, gutters and the two of them made great progress for their family.  Everything was going so wonderful in Maria's mind.  That is until Maria's husband left her and the children and moved to Virginia. 

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Maria did not give up hope for their marriage and followed him with the children to Virginia where they got back together.  Since they had had success flipping houses in California, she decided to go to back to school to get her General Contractor's License.  Maria gave birth to a baby girl.  It was around this time that they started having problems, again.    

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They decided to separate.  Thankfully they were both debt free at the time and Maria began the planning of another business - a Mexican Restaurant in Manassas, Virginia. 

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With the experience she gained from opening her own mini mart and having her general contractor's license, Maria navigated the restaurant industry and was looking forward to a new life for her and her youngest daughter.  She created a delicious menu, purchased a liquor license and put a staff together that was enthusiastic about their new business.

 Although the profits from the restaurant were able to cover the costs of their expenses, it was not bringing in enough for Maria to support herself and her daughter.  She sold her home in the hopes that the money would hold them over until the restaurant really took off.  Local business owners told her to be patient, that it may take another year or two.  Maria was scared about what more she could lose.  She ended up closing the restaurant. 

Without a home, help or the finances to start over, Maria and her daughter moved into BARN.  Turmoil with her ex-husband caused more problems and eventually her daughter moved to be with her father. 

I don’t break down. You have to keep going. Everybody has problems. No one wants to hear a sad story. You just have to keep going.
— Maria
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Once Maria was settled into the program at BARN she was able to start saving her money again.   BARN provided emotional support to her through their program management and therapy.  She had the shelter to protect her and now she able to focus on rebuilding a new life.  Although she was heartbroken to not have her children with her, she knew the only way to prove herself to her family was to continue making progress.  She started working multiple minimum wage jobs.  She realized that these were not going to allow her to make ends meet.  She decided to set her eyes on a new goal - real estate.  She signed up for classes to take her Virginia Real Estate Exam.  She recorded the lessons on her phone and listened to them while she was cleaning rooms.  She studied in all of her free time.   

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Finally, it came to the day when she would take her real estate licensing exam for the first time.  She passed.  She immediately went on job interviews and was hired by Re/Max.  She is in the beginning stages of her new career.  BARN Community Housing is so proud of her and is so thankful that we were able to provide her the support she needed to move forward in her life. 

Everyone deserves a second chance or a tenth chance...whatever it may take. So we need places like BARN to help people out in our community, to get them started on a new life. Whatever their situation is.
— BARN Supporter, Chris Colgan

Written By: Bond Cavazos - Community Resources Coordinator