On a muggy afternoon in Miami, Sky sat on the side of A1A with her head bowed low. With cars racing past, she glanced down at her growing baby bump, concealed in the loose folds of her bright orange prison-issue jumpsuit and tried to fight back the tears.
As a young single mom raised in the foster care system, Sky had fled to South Florida to escape an abusive relationship and start a new life with her young daughter and unborn son. But the odds were simply not in her favor. Despite her best efforts, she had lost custody of her daughter, missed a court appearance, and ended up in jail for three months. Now, she was pregnant and newly released from prison … in the middle of a pandemic … with every shelter closed and nowhere to turn.
But just when she thought that she couldn’t go on, Sky felt a fresh wind of new hope: The Spiritus Relief Fund – a special effort launched by NCF’s local office in South Florida in response to COVID-19.
Despite her best efforts, she had lost custody of her daughter, missed a court appearance, and ended up in jail for three months.
Stephan Tchividjian, President of NCF South Florida, explains, “When COVID-19 hit the world, NCF givers in South Florida quickly moved into action to mobilize hope through The Spiritus Relief Fund.”
“Spiritus is a Latin term for breath that’s often used figuratively to mean spirit. In the midst of a virus that threatens our lungs, we want to bring the true breath of life to our community,” Stephan says.
Over the years, the NCF team in South Florida has built a unique model that brings together church and ministry leaders, along with local business leaders and generous givers.
“The Spiritus Relief Fund is found at the intersection of each of these pillars. We engage our community of givers to invest their resources into the fund. Then, our team learns of legitimate needs within our community through our connections to local church and ministry leaders and responds appropriately with the resources entrusted to us. We formed a committee of NCF staff, board and givers, the director of Church United, and the local director of Ministry Ventures. They review the Fund requests to ensure that legitimate needs are being met and that funds are directed to those with the greatest needs.”
Focused on supporting vulnerable people like Sky, the Spiritus Relief Fund has been mobilizing hope in South Florida in a myriad of ways over the past several months.
Sky quickly obtained placement with a local housing program, Homes United, through the help of Ema Ministries, a faith-based non-profit organization that works to reduce the number of children in foster care and serve as an advocate for mothers. To help pay her rent, the Spiritus Relief Fund granted to both Ema and Homes United. When Sky arrived at her new home, she found it complete with a bed, furnishings, clothes, toiletries, sheets, towels, and everything else she needed for a fresh start. The housing placement and grants for rent and furnishings all happened in a matter of hours and Sky’s future was quickly turned around.
In days, she was able to secure work with an online call agency, a job that enables her to work from home during her pregnancy. The Spiritus Relief Fund also provided her with the computer needed to fulfill the requirements of her new position. And while the court had ordered Sky’s baby to be taken away from her once she gave birth, the motion to remove has now been overturned because she has a stable home, a job, and the mentorship and guidance she needs to succeed.
Today, Sky is living proof that you can beat homelessness and foster care, even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic … with a little help from a collaboration of generous people empowered by the spirit of God.
Corina has recently started her journey of independent living after being a resident of Glory House, a Christ-centered non-profit in Miami that helps restore survivors of human trafficking. She is part of the Certified Nursing Assistant program at Miami Dade Medical Campus Center and is getting ready to graduate.
But Corina’s journey toward a better life almost came to an abrupt halt when the coronavirus forced all schools to go online in March. Without a computer, it would have been impossible for her to continue her studies. The Spiritus Relief Fund allowed NCF to provide Corina with her own personal laptop, which will enable her to finish school and begin a new chapter in her professional career.
Corina’s journey toward a better life almost came to an abrupt halt when the coronavirus forced all schools to go online … Without a computer, it would have been impossible for her to continue her studies.
As God would have it, the team was able to deliver her new laptop on her birthday, as she turned 20 in 2020. In a timely move of the Spirit, Corina was also baptized the same week.
These two young women are just a couple examples of those lifted up as a result of the far-reaching effects of NCF’s generous community in South Florida. Their Spiritus Relief Fund has also helped to feed children, underserved communities, and first responders. They have provided support for mental health counseling and many other urgent needs.
Like the Spiritus Relief Fund established through NCF’s South Florida office, any giver or group of givers can set up a donor-advised fund (Giving Fund) to have ready in a crisis. A simple “donate” button can be added to your web page or social media so supporters can make contributions into the Fund for your cause. The giver setting up the fund can determine who does the granting to approved nonprofits, and NCF takes care of all of the administration and details for you. Contact your local NCF office to learn more.
As the crisis evolves, NCF will continue to provide resources as the Spirit leads because, as one recipient of their kindness said, “I cannot find the words to express how clearly this was an answer to desperate prayers at the exact moment of need.”