Homelessness can’t stop the excitement of back-to-school for this big, loving family

Family of 10 getting supplies, transportation from Haven for Hope while they secure a house

SAN ANTONIO - – They’re a family of 10 whose pride is as big as their hearts.

Right now, they’re without a home, staying at Haven for Hope while they meet their goals to get back into a house.

The shelter staff is helping seven of their eight kids get ready to go back to school.

Ernest Martinez and Roxanne Guzman are middle school sweethearts.

“Eighth grade. We were 14 when we met,” Martinez said.

They’ve taught that loyalty of love to their eight children.

“We like to joke on each other, make each other laugh. That’s just what always happens,” Guzman smiled.

They do that, even when times are hard.

“We had our home for three years and we had to relocate because of mold, because the landlord failed the inspection for SAHA. We were kind of taken by surprise and it was unexpected,” Martinez said.

They were paying rent and doing everything right but didn’t have enough time to find a new home big enough for their family.

So, they landed at Haven for Hope about two months ago.

“As soon as you walk through the doors, you have case workers coming up to you and asking you, ‘What is it that you need?’ You’re not by yourself,” Guzman said.

“It’s been little weird,” said the oldest, 12-year-old Miya.

At first she was scared about not fitting in, but that worked itself out fast. Their Haven friends are already like family.

“We have our own little group chat where we text each other. They go to dinner and we ask them, ‘Hey, what’s for dinner?’ And they save us a spot in line,” said Miya, as her younger brothers smiled in agreement.

Now, she and her siblings want to keep fitting in at school, despite their living situation.

“We have terrific partnerships with all of the ISDs around San Antonio. So if they want to go to their same schools where they were attending before the summer break, then we can arrange transportation to get them there,” said Haven for Hope Communications Director Terri Behling.

Haven for Hope provides busses that pull right through the campus to bring kids to and from schools, near and far.

“We’ve had a family go all the way to Schertz before,” Behling said.

Behling said school supplies are taken care of too.

“Every student staying at Haven for Hope will receive a pair of shoes, a backpack and all the supplies that they need. And that is through a wonderful partnership with NuStar Energy,” Behling said.

9-year-old James said he’s most excited for a new pair of shoes, giving a big thumbs up when asked how he thinks school will be this year.

Mom and dad are ready for their assignments too, meeting with a case worker daily to find a new house with the SAHA vouchers they’ve already secured.

“Then after that, she’s going to help us with employment and everything else,” Guzman said.

“Our goal personally to do that within a month or so,” Martinez said.

It’s a goal they have no doubt they’ll accomplish. They have eight adorable reasons to stay motivated.

Haven for Hope partners with organizations to make sure the kids can go to summer camps, just like other children at their schools.

11-year-old Eli loves basketball and gets to play all the time.

The same goes for activities during the school year. They make sure kids can do ballet, play sports, art classes, just like they would if they weren’t in the shelter.

About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Recommended Videos