Soon after, Rez got married and started a family. "Life was really good," said Rez. But things soon changed. Rez and his wife split and Rez became a single father, raising his young son on his own.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic followed by a slowing, uncertain economy, Rez was laid off from his job. After months of financial struggle, he finally found himself unable to make his mortgage payments and soon, Rez lost his home.
With nowhere left to turn, Rez and his son moved to a friend's farm and began living in a small RV camper. But Rez wanted a safe and stable home environment for his child. That's when he called on his resources at the VA for help.
LifeMoves, headquartered in Menlo Park, is the largest provider of homeless shelters and services in Silicon Valley and is one of the beneficiaries of The Almanac's Holiday Fund. Donations are divided equally among this year's 10 nonprofit organizations and 100% of the funds raised go directly to the recipients. Donations to the Holiday Fund can be made at almanacnews.com/holiday_fund.
Last year, more than 7,200 homeless children and adults received support through Life Move's 26 shelters and programs. One of these shelters is Haven Family House in Menlo Park. Here, 23 unhoused families and up to nine veteran families each night are provided with interim shelter and supportive services — all with the goal of helping families become self-sufficient again.
In April 2022, LifeMoves case manager Craig Billman received a referral from the VA for Rez and his son. Billman reached out to Rez to arrange safe, stable shelter, food, and wraparound services like childcare and financial counseling for his family. "I got a call from Craig. Everything he said was so amazing that I thought it was too good to be true, but I thought it was worth a shot," said Rez.
Rez and his son were referred to Haven Family House, a transitional housing complex that offers private apartments, an on-site food pantry, a computer center, education and employment resources, and an atmosphere designed to make families feel at home.
"When Rez and his son arrived at Haven Family House, they were thrilled with what we had to offer," said Billman. Rez and his son moved into a two-bedroom apartment with access to a kids' playground, summer camp, community barbecues and other family-friendly activities.
"We came here, and I felt like my son and I mattered. Anytime I needed something, Craig responded right away," said Rez.
With Craig and Rez both being veterans, they had a great rapport that was based on mutual respect.
"Rez is a good man. His motivation is off the charts," said Craig. "Rez's whole priority in life is making sure his son is raised right and safe."
After working together on a case plan, Rez received a housing voucher, which has given him some breathing room to better support his growing son and find new employment.
"With help from LifeMoves, everything is falling back into place, and I'll be able to work back in my field," said Rez.
With Rez's hard work and commitment, he has reached his goal to become fully self-sufficient again and regained his and his son's stability. Father and son planned to move into their new apartment in Mountain View just before the winter holidays — a gift that's priceless.
Are you facing or experiencing homelessness, or would like to support the LifeMoves mission to end homelessness in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties? Visit LifeMoves at lifemoves.org or call 650-685-5880.