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Family Thanks National Home for Providing Long-Sought Stability

Having moved 59 times before the age of 16, James knew very little about stability.

“I was on my own by the age of 15,” the Portland, Oregon native recalled.

Meanwhile, Samantha’s upbringing was unstable and had a lot of unknowns until she moved with her mom to the VFW National Home.

“It was the most stable place I had ever been,” she remembered.

Little did she know that the VFW National Home would play another crucial part in her life several years later.

Enlisted at 17

With no support or home, James enlisted in the Army National Guard before he even turned 18. He remained stateside for his six-year commitment to installing weapon systems throughout the country and returning to Portland upon discharge.

Yet, his problems seemed to pick up where they left off. Now a single dad of a little girl, he worked hard to support his daughter.

“I got a job at the unemployment office but I wasn’t making enough to pay rent and childcare. The cost of living is very high in Portland, and I just couldn’t make ends meet,” said James.

Learned about a Place for Veterans

That’s when his stepfather who was a member of the VFW told him about the National Home. By January of 2021 James moved across country to Eaton Rapids and suddenly had a secure roof over his head and childcare he could trust so he could pursue a livelihood to support his daughter.

James enrolled at Lansing Community College in a cyber security program and also began attending the First Baptist Church in Eaton Rapids where he says his life was changed when he surrendered his life to the Lord.

“I couldn’t do it anymore by myself,” he said of his decision to trust God with his life.

At the same time, he was becoming acquainted with his daughter’s Sunday school teacher. Samantha remained in Eaton Rapids after her years at the National Home as a child and was a member of Eaton Rapids First Baptist Church, where she taught the children the Bible on Sundays.

“James eventually asked me out, and four months later, we got married,” said Samantha, who was a student at MSU at the time.

After their wedding, Samantha moved in with James at the VFW National Home, where they live today.

“I came to the home $30 thousand in debt, and in just three years, we’ve paid off most of it, except for $3000 from my school loans,” explained James.

“We didn’t rescue James and Samantha, but instead helped draw out the strengths they already possessed like determination and a desire to set goals and achieve them,” said Naomi McClurg, Advanced Case Manager.

In addition to furthering his education, James also completed the Guitar for Vets and Heroes to Hives programs on campus.

Sam completed her undergraduate degree and is currently on track to finish requirements for a master’s degree by the end of 2024.

Ready to be on Their Own

The family, who welcomed a new son six months ago, will be leaving the National Home in June with plans to purchase their own home right in Eaton Rapids.

The housing and childcare provided by the VFW National Home enabled James to complete a year of college courses, which prepared him for a future career in IT.  James secured a position in the IT department at MSU because of his cybersecurity training.

“James and Samantha just needed a few supports to help them achieve the goals and aspirations that they already had, and the VFW National Home had the privilege of walking alongside them and helping make it happen,” added McClurg.

“If I hadn’t come to the VFW National Home I would be in a very different place. I am now middle class instead of being impoverished,” he said with gratitude. “I want to build a foundation for my family that Sam and I never got.”

“We want to say thank you to the VFW National Home for all the safety and stability they have provided,” expressed Samantha.

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