Before the Cisco family became homeless, life was great. They were living in Atlanta and both parents, Charity and Lakeem, had steady jobs. They had a nice home; everyone was happy and healthy.

But all of this quickly changed the day the Ciscos received a call no parents want to receive: they were told to come pick up their 1-year-old son Peyton from daycare immediately. When they got there it was far worse than they could have imagined. Peyton had sores and blisters all in his mouth and could hardly breathe.

Knowing of Peyton’s severe allergy to peanuts, Charity Cisco immediately gave him a shot of epinephrine, which did not take. When they arrived at the hospital, Peyton was given multiple breathing treatments as well as more injections of epinephrine, all of which didn’t take, and Peyton was transferred to the children’s ICU where he spent around three weeks.

During this terrifying time, Charity and Lakeem would take shifts being at the hospital with Peyton while the other was at work or with their other children. This became very trying and tiring both physically and mentally for both of them, and as hard as they tried to keep up, they subsequently had to miss some work. Still unable to breathe on his own, Peyton ended up having to have emergency surgery.

“I never thought I would have to choose between being at the hospital for my 1-year-old son’s surgery and my job … and I would choose him every time,” said Charity, recollecting what she called the easiest decision of her life. Both Charity and Lakeem chose to be at Peyton’s surgery, and both lost their jobs.

Now both without jobs, a child just out of the hospital and children at home, the Ciscos felt hopeless. As the bills began to pile up, they started selling their possessions and reaching out to agencies and shelters for help, all of which turned them down because they are a two-parent family. After the continuous rejection they decided to call neighboring states in search of help. After speaking with someone from Alabama they were directed to come to Mobile.

“We had nothing left but our car, and some clothes … We knew we had to get to Mobile so we sold my wedding band for gas money and food,” Charity said.

When we got to Mobile, everywhere they were planning on going was already closed for the evening.

“With no money, food or a place to go,” Charity said, “we prayed, we always prayed, and by the grace of God he led us to The Salvation Army Family Haven … and Ms. Angel, she told us we were going to be OK, and we were going to be able to stay together … and I was so scared my family was going to be torn apart.”

After about three months, Charity is employed, Lakeem is looking for employment and they have moved out of the Family Haven and into their own apartment. Walking into the Cisco family’s new apartment, the sounds of laughter immediately hit you, followed by the sounds little feet. Though the joy and excitement of moving into their own apartment is overwhelming, they now face the challenge of furnishing their new home.

“Even though we don’t have much (my kids don’t have beds), we came here 90 days ago with nothing, and now we have our own place, I have a job, and my kids are happy and healthy … but without the Family Haven we couldn’t have done it. My kids were able to go to a good school and not worry about people finding out they are homeless, I was able to focus on finding a job and not where are we going to sleep or what are we going to eat tonight, and we were able to stay together as a family. All of this is because of God and The Family Haven,” Charity said.

Submitted by The Salvation Army