Tragedy turns into Purpose

Losing your job can certainly lead to homelessness. But what if, instead of losing the resource that helps you keep your home, you physically lost your home?

This is the situation James Landry, his wife, and their eight children found themselves in during the “Big Four.” Hurricanes by the names of Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne devastated Central Florida in 2004. Some people lost power for weeks. Stores quickly lacked bottled water, gas, and other necessary supplies. Schools closed, leaving parents scrambling to find care for their children while they tried to return to work.

But for the Landry family, these hurricanes didn’t just steal their electricity: The “Big Four” took their home.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) informed James and his large family that the house they were renting in Orlando was about to be condemned, due to water damage caused by the hurricanes. With many houses, hotels, and apartments ruined by the natural disasters, the Landry family didn’t have many options.

“FEMA tried to help us find a new place to live but with so many people displaced, funds and resources were limited,” said James. Unfortunately, the family had to fend for themselves.

DSC_8514After a little research, they learned of the Coalition. James discovered there was a room big enough for his family of ten. They stayed at the Coalition for a total of nine months while waiting for the dust to settle. In early 2005, they were able to find a new home.

“I don’t know where we would be if it wasn’t for the safe haven the Coalition provided,” said James. “I was so grateful that I wanted to give back.”

In 2011, James found out there was a job opening for a Resident Assistant at the Coalition. His background was in janitorial services but he wanted to help in any way he could.

“My time at the Coalition in 2004 gave me understanding,” said James. “I have compassion for our residents because I’ve been where they are.”

James started as a Resident Assistant and in May 2014 was promoted to General Services Manager of the new Men’s Service Center.

I look forward to coming to work every day,” said James. “I enjoy the opportunity to help transform lives, and I believe I make a difference.”