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Meet the Sousa Family

As a writer of fiction, I believe that the best stories happen all around us—waiting to be told: Real people, with real hopes, dreams, and challenges.

As a former member of the Board of Directors and volunteer for Sacramento’s chapter, I believe in Habitat for Humanity. Simply stated, Sac-Habitat improves our community, one family at a time.I’m promoting my first short story collection, “Matters Familiar,” this holiday season. I thought, Why not help a family in need in a meaningful, lasting way at the same time?

MY PLEDGE: For every eBook or paperback copy of “Matters Familiar” sold during the holidays, I’ll donate $1 to Sacramento Habitat for Humanity, for a new home for a qualifying family. (For every individual e-story sold, I’ll donate 10 cents of the 99-cent purchase price.)

MY GOAL: To raise $75,000 to sponsor a complete build in 2013, on behalf of “Fans of E. G. Fabricant.”

Here’s the Sousa’s story.  (Spoiler Alert: It has a happy ending.)—EGF


 

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JEN, PAUL, JAYCE & ALANNAH SOUSA–AT HOME.

(You can see more photos of the Sousa family on my Facebook page.)

 

Paul and Jen Sousa are recovering addicts.

Jen grew up with violin lessons, softball games, and Girl Scouts.  Jen stole from her family to support her habit.  Even after the birth of her daughter, Alannah, she could not get clean.

Paul never made it to high school.  He spent his young life in and out of emergency housing and camping along the American River.  He spent over 10 years behind bars.

In the fall of 2008, they both found themselves at a Narcotics Anonymous Meeting.  Paul had been clean for a year; Jen’s road to recovery began that night.  They fell in love, were married a year later, and had a son named Jayce.

In the fall of 2009, a friend and Sacramento Habitat for Humanity homeowner introduced the Sousa’s to Sac-Habitat.  After applying, they were informed that they were under the income requirements and had severe credit issues to correct.    Jen and Paul refused to be discouraged.  ; they said, to Sac-Habitat’s staff:

Don’t give up on us, we’ll be back.

Through perseverance and consulting with NeighborWorks, an affiliated, nonprofit credit counseling agency, they were approved nearly a year later.

Paul works as a drug and alcohol counselor at CORE Medical Clinic and is working towards his degree at American River College.  Jen recently graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy and is now working at Ruth’s Chris Steak House as a pastry chef.

Theirs was the second Sac-Habitat dwelling obtained from the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency and rehabilitated

The transition to their new home, begun with its dedication on June 18, 2011, has been beyond their wildest dreams.  Jen explains:

Habitat is the perfect fit for us.  Just as in recovery, it requires hard work—literally—an emotional and mental commitment, and a system of support.  Filling our (minimum of 500) “Sweat Equity” hours was especially enjoyable, because we got to work on our own home site, together with all those great volunteers.

Their new life is a far cry from the Sousa’s old, cramped apartment and Paul’s memories of living on Sacramento’s riverbanks continue to grow more remote.  He reflects:

The loneliness I once felt so intimately dies a little more each day.

 


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