'A Christmas miracle': Once homeless, a family finds a new home just in time for the holidays

tew family

This Christmas is one the Tew family will remember for a long time. Under the decorated Christmas tree are wrapped presents for the kids donated by Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center. From L to R, back row: Melissa, Val and Zackary, 17. Front row: Alexus, 6 and Valiant, 8.

Jennie McKeon | The Sun
Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 04:59 PM.

If you asked Melissa or Val Tew last month where they were going to spend Christmas, their answer would’ve been “We don’t know.”

“We were lost,” Val said. “We went from living in a home to nothing. We didn’t know where to turn.”

Walton County natives, Melissa, Val and their three kids, Zackary, 17, Valiant, 8, and Alexus, 6, were originally living with a family member but they had to move out after a domestic incident.

“I just didn’t feel safe there,” Melissa said.

After the family spent the night in their mini van, a deputy at Walton County Sheriff’s Office gave the family money to stay in a hotel room out of his pocket. With the help of friends in the community, the family stayed there for two weeks trying to plan their next step.

It hasn’t been an easy road for the family. Valiant was born with a malformed rectum and has been in and out of the hospital — he goes in for major surgery at Shands Children Hospital in Gainesville next month. Melissa is on disability, diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety, as well as bipolar disorder. She's currently working toward her bachelor's degree in medical administration online and holds a 3.0 GPA — her husband is quick to note that she's the first person in her entire family to go to college.

Val works part-time dedicating most of his time to taking care of his family.

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