Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Many of us find it difficult to eat a healthy breakfast on the go. Here are some tips to make it easier on you!
Pick up portable breakfast items when at the grocery store. You should buy foods like fruit, low-fat yogurt, whole grain breakfast bars, or granola bars for those mornings when you have to eat breakfast on the go.
HACS Success Stories
One Homeless Family's Journey to Stability
A young family credits Houston Area Community Services (HACS) with leading them toward a better life and a brighter future.
The room is crowded. Voices belonging to men, women and children can be heard throughout the space. People are clinging to their belongings, and the cold concrete floor is anything but welcoming. Still, it is where all of these people will sleep tonight.
The Martinez family -- Ronnie, Andrea and their two daughters, Faith, 3, and Azalea, 4,-- called this shelter home for several months after they became homeless.
"It was difficult actually to be taking a shower, literally a five to seven minute shower, and sharing with everybody. It was just the worst experience in a way because of course my daughters were with us, and they were little at the time," Andrea said.
Shortly after moving into the shelter, Andrea's wallet was stolen with the family's birth certificates and social security cards inside, opening them up to identity theft.
Although it was challenging balancing life in a shelter with two young kids, that time taught the Martinez family a valuable lesson.
"Being in the shelter, it really was an eye opener. It makes you appreciate what you have, really." Ronnie explained.
After four months of curfews, bed times, concrete floors and a cramped living space, Ronnie and Andrea began searching for government housing. They discovered Houston Area Community Services (HACS) after receiving advice from Ronnie s brother-in-law, who was already a recipient of HACS' housing services. Ronnie and Andrea entered the process and soon were able to qualify for an apartment, just right for their family of four.
"Now we're in an apartment, a nice apartment at that. We're not living with a whole bunch of people. We're able to come home to peace and quiet and not worry about anyone going through our stuff," Ronnie said.
Having an apartment of their own was the first step in building the independent life Ronnie and Andrea Martinez wanted for their family. After two years in the program, the couple also has a reliable car, steady income and student loans paid in full -- thanks in part to the housing and life skills coaching programs at HACS. Andrea has since completed her degree as a medical assistant and Ronnie has become a certified HVAC specialist, earning benefits and even traveling occasionally.
"It's just wonderful, they (HACS) provide and they help with a lot, in a lot of different areas. I am more than sure that there's a lot more that they offer, we just don't tend to those areas. With everything they've helped us on, it's all worth it. We come out benefiting from it, of course," Andrea said.
After finishing school, Ronnie participated in the life coaching classes offered by HACS' life coach Nick Cavallaro to help improve his networking and interview skills before pursuing a career.
"One thing... that I felt like kind of helped me get the job where I'm at now is.. I explained to them how I go about certain things [in a job interview], and they told me to change it up a little bit, to do this and do that and do this, and sure enough I did it. I got hired that same day. That was a new thing for me. Usually it's like, 'we'll give you a call back.' "
As time passed, The Martinez family learned how much this unique organization has to offer, taking advantage of everything from HACS' counseling services to their pediatric clinic. The high level of care her children have received has particularly impressed Andrea.
Dr. Aida Khanum, a pediatrician with HACS, diagnosed Faith with a heart murmur on her first visit -- a condition that had gone unnoticed by her former doctor for two years.
"I panicked to death, of course, that's my little girl. I couldn't understand why I'd been taking her to this other doctor for so long and she had never told me that...I knew Dr. Khanum was a good doctor. She was great with the kids... She totally checked them from head to toe."
Dr. Khanum is now the primary care physician for both Faith and Azalea.
Summing up their experience, Ronny said, "We were just happy that when the opportunity came to be able to be accepted into this program, we were around and able to benefit from it."
Today, far past those nights at the shelter, Ronnie and Andrea Martinez are more than happy to speak about all the benefits of HACS and the people like Maggie Abitua, Housing Case Manager for HACS, that have guided them to where they are today -- standing together in their Sunday best -- happy, healthy and well-equipped for whatever the future has to offer.