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

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 04:59 PM.

Homelessness, on top of their daily struggles, was not something the family was prepared to handle.

“We don’t hide anything from our kids; honesty is the best policy,” Val said. “But that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say — ‘You’re gonna have to sleep in a van tonight.’ ”

Val and Melissa found help through The Matrix Community Outreach Center, which in turn led the family to Opportunity, Inc., an organization dedicated to helping the homeless in Okaloosa and Walton County . There, they entered the Independent Living Program and within no time, they moved in to a house of their own.

"The Tews are the first family in Walton County to benefit from the Independent Living Program," explained the family's case manager, Terry Abbott. "Our mission is to stamp out homelessness as much as possible. When we renew our federal grant in February, we hope to help even more families in Walton County ."

Through the program, the Tews were given a home of their own, where they only pay a portion of the rent. Utilities are covered by Opportunity, Inc.

"The clients don't even see the bills," Abbott said.

The family was given the choice of two homes in DeFuniak Springs. Their final choice, Val said, is the nicest home they’ve lived in since he and Melissa got married nine years ago.

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