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H.O.P.E. = "Hang On Pain Ends"

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

The following are the remarks given by Anna Van Hulzen with her husband Adam at Home Sweet Home on Thursday, October 7 to share their family's story and experience with Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis.

Good evening, everyone. My name is Anna Van Hulzen. I would like to start by thanking Family Promise and all of you for your kindness and generosity. Without your support I don’t know where our family would be today. I would also like to thank the Home Sweet Home Committee for inviting me to share my family’s story with you tonight.

About eight years ago, my husband Adam and I had a challenging but wonderful life. Our oldest son Andrew was three and a mischievous ball of energy with a heart of gold, and I was pregnant with our second child. Adam had a great job and an amazing mentor at Domino's Pizza in Texas. That year Adam was promoted to General Manager and things were going well for us.

When our middle son Aedan was born, we found out that he had a very rare condition called XXXXY 49 chromosome syndrome. That first year of his life was very rough for us with constant doctors’ appointments, therapy sessions, and even a surgery. Adam’s mentor at Domino’s had worked with him through every challenge understanding what our family was going through. We worked hard, pulled through it all and had even managed to pay off all our debts in the process. But shortly after Aedan turned one, my husband’s mentor and his daughter were shot and killed the day after we were joking and laughing with him at the company Christmas party. His mentor and our friend was a huge loss and hit the heart of our family hard. Still having to go to regular doctor’s appointments, some planned and some unexpected, work became very difficult to keep up with. Adam had to step down from his job, and I was having complications in my pregnancy with our youngest son Alexander and had to leave my job as well. We quickly went from stable to mountains of debt and now a bad rental history, too.

So, a few years ago we moved to Indiana for a fresh start and to help my sister-in-law and her son through his heart surgery. We got our own apartment and finally felt like we were at home once more. After my nephew’s heart surgery, they ended up losing their housing and moved in with us. Although we had extra mouths to feed, we were still doing well.

Adam had discovered a job like DoorDash that allowed him to work as many hours as he needed to, while still having the flexibility to make doctor’s appointments when they came up for Aedan. Six months later, our car died, and we lost our income. To not lose too much income, with our credit, we had to get a replacement car at one of those Buy-Here-Pay-Here places. We paid $3,000 down--all our savings--and a large weekly payment on top of that for the car. The car didn’t last but a few months before it broke down beyond repair.

We had known for some time that we were in trouble and were working toward fixing it, but the negatives wore flowing in faster than we could keep up with them. Though our apartment on W 39th Street was considered “affordable,” we knew we needed something even cheaper, so we applied at apartments near 25th and Keystone and put down half the security deposit. We had to be out of the apartment before we could save up the rest of the deposit and move in, and if we had to pay for a hotel, we would never have been able to save the deposit. We were going to be temporarily homeless.

At this point I knew that it was time for us to reach out for help. With our special needs child, we could not afford to be completely homeless. He is a flight risk without him understanding the danger for himself in leaving the safety of the house. I couldn't trust that he would be able to stay in a homeless shelter and be safe.

That is when Family Promise stepped in to help (really, I mean rescue). We called them needing shelter for just a short time till we could save the security deposit, but again I feared having my middle child in a shelter. They didn’t make us stay in the shelter at all. They finished paying the deposit for our apartment and the first month’s rent. They picked us up at our old place and used their van to help move belongings.

But their generosity did not end there. They helped us to get furniture through an agency called Mustard Seed. Lena, our AfterCare manager at the time, took me around to food pantries and helped me sign up for SNAP benefits. Congregations and even a local company called Major Tool helped my kids have a wonderful Christmas two years in a row. And this past year, when our latest car was undrivable due to Adam getting hit from behind on the road, Mike told us a pastor donated her car that same week and they had it available to donate to a family in AfterCare. Pastor Kim Olson--if you’re here, thank you! And thanks to First Meridian Heights Presbyterian for helping pay for the minor repairs it needed!

When Masha became AfterCare Manager, she brought with her Zoom workshops. The very first Zoom meeting I attended I met a lady with an organization called School on Wheels that taught me to navigate the Enroll Indy website. She helped me to find the wonderful school my children now attend--one of the best in Indy, and it has bus transportation too!

The next Zoom meeting I attended helped me to learn how to budget my finances better and save for unforeseen circumstances--Scott, if you’re out there, thank you for leading that workshop. I'm still working on that budgeting one. :)

The last meeting I attended was a women's healing group which I still attend to this day and with the help of Jessica and Ms. Pat I have found healing and been inspired for the future. I am excited for what’s coming. We have been stably housed now for more than two years. With all my little ones in great schools and my husband providing, I found my way back to school for my bachelor’s in psychology. Eventually my goal is to earn my Master’s Degree in Applied Clinical Social Work so I can help others as Family Promise has helped my family. And we live right down the street from Major Tool, so if you have any job openings for him, we are still waiting for your email and would appreciate your consideration!

If other families are listening, I’d remind you that hope is not just a word but a promise. The acronym of H.O.P.E is to "Hang On Pain Ends." So, stay strong, work hard, and never give up on your dreams because one day you will be able to get where you need to go.

To those here who make the work Family Promise does a possibility, I want you to know how impactful your kindness can be. Your generosity has truly made a lasting impression on our family for the better. We are thankful for everything you have given, and you’ll always have a place in our hearts.

Oh, and Mike told me to remind you to tip your DoorDash drivers. :)

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