02/05/2013 03:20 pm ET Updated Apr 07, 2013

It's Dark and I Can't See -- What Direction Did You Say to Go?

Written by Hope Cranford, former Christian HELP Client, and Julie Zimmerman, Volunteer Coordinator

Wouldn't it be great to have a roadmap of your life preparing you for all the twists and turns you will encounter along the way? At least with the map you could anticipate the detours and road closures and prepare for the path ahead. But, life really isn't that way, and sometimes you hit a dead end and don't know which way to turn.

In July, through no fault of my own, I lost my job. While searching for employment, my husband I decided to expand our search to all 50 states. Out of the blue, I came across a great job in Orlando, Fla. I interviewed for the position and felt confident that soon the Sunshine State would be our new home.

My heart kept telling me to move to Orlando, so two weeks before school started I headed out to the land of palm trees and sparkling seas to scout out a new home. My husband, a nurse by profession, stayed behind in Kansas, with our three children, and began filing the necessary paper work to obtain a license in Florida.

The job I had hoped for didn't materialize. With no money left from my husband's last paycheck, I knew we were heading downhill. Now desperate, I reached out to an organization for help. Standing in the rain, I waited for the doors to open. The agency's funding assistance is limited so each day they hold a raffle to see how many people they can help. Number after number was called. I kept praying, God, please, I need this help. Finally number 13, my number, was called. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I shared details of our move from Kansas for a job that didn't materialize. I shared the fact that we had no rent money and were almost out of food. Very quickly I was told: "Ma'am, I am sorry we can't help you because the emergency didn't happen in Central Florida, but somewhere else." I left very humble and upset.

I went home and tried to figure out what my next step should be. Once again I sat at my computer looking for jobs. I stumbled upon, (Central Florida Employment Council) and I intuitively knew I was headed in the right direction. The next tab I clicked led me to Christian HELP. To my amazement they had a part time job available. I applied on line and landed an interview.

The Executive Director of Christian HELP, Sandi Vidal, called me personally to let me know they had offered the position to some else. What Sandi did next is truly wonderful, for she asked what she could do to help me. She was the first person in months to ask me what they can do for me. I was so touched. Sandi took me under her wing and became my mentor. She worked with me to revitalize my resume and showed me how to create a really dynamic cover letter.

My resume was getting me in the front door, but I still hadn't landed a job. Sandi spoke with the people I had interviewed with and learned that at times it appeared I was not listening for I broke eye contact. A red light went off in my head. Being deaf in my left ear, when I engage in conversation, I typically turn my head to the right. It's not that I am looking away; I am listening intensely to hear what is being said.

I took every word of advice that she has given me and keep looking. In the last 30 days I have had 11 interviews and on Jan. 24, 2013, I was offered a full time position with the State of Florida Department as a Revenue Specialist II for Child Support Enforcement.

The road ahead is very hopeful and I feel my family belongs in Central Florida. Many families do not know where to go for help. They get turned away from one agency and feel so beaten down that they do not want to face the world any more. Many of these families have not found the road to Christian HELP.

For those suffering from job loss and underemployment, difficult choices are often made. Christian HELP firmly believes families should not have to choose between eating and paying their bills. The goal of Christian HELP is to prevent homelessness by helping the unemployed and underemployed find employment while materially and spiritually providing for them.

Christian HELP and the Central Florida Employment Council's ( Central Florida Jobs Initiative ( has created an innovative program equipping Job Seekers with the tools to become excellent employees. The program is focused on changing the attitudes, behaviors, and habits that keep job seekers from finding employment. For families like mine, these services are a lifeline to getting back on our feet.

Please support Christian HELP at in the JobRaising challenge. Their compassionate care of the unemployed has helped to connect over 91,000 people with jobs in the past 20 years.

Thank you Christian Help for being there for me and my family when I was lost and had no hope for a bright future. You are a blessing to my life and I have mentors to help me as this new journey begins in Central Florida.

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