The Heartwarming Story of Maria: A Community Coming Together

The Heartwarming Story of Maria: A Community Coming Together

Maria Talbot House Homelessness Lakeland FL

The Heartwarming Story of Maria: A Community Coming Together

In the vast landscape of stories that weave through our lives, there are some that stand out and touch our hearts in a special way. The story of Maria is one such tale, a testament to the power of community support, compassion, and the impact we can have on the lives of those in need.

Maria reached out for assistance during a challenging time in her life. She is currently undergoing cancer treatment and is anxiously awaiting surgery scheduled for November 8th. In a world where we’re bombarded with numerous calls for help each day, something about Maria’s situation resonated deeply with us.

Originally from Venezuela, Maria has been a U.S. citizen for nearly 30 years. Her life has been one of hard work and determination, spending over 25 years as a self-employed housekeeper. But life took an unexpected turn when her health was compromised by a cancer diagnosis, rendering her unable to continue her work. The fear of homelessness, something she had never faced before, became a stark and unsettling reality.

When Maria reached out to us, the desperation in her voice was palpable. Her story is a testament to how quickly life can change, and the fear and uncertainty that can grip even the strongest among us.

Our response to Maria’s call for help was swift and determined. Thanks to our Diversion Funds, we were able to provide her with the support she needed to catch up on her October rent. We also reached out to local providers who stepped up with tremendous generosity, committing to cover her November rent while she awaits assistance from the Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation.

But the story doesn’t end there. We didn’t just stop at financial aid. We connected Maria with various community resources that will help open doors to more substantial, long-term assistance. Every step of the way, we’ve been there for her, ensuring she receives the support she needs during this difficult chapter in her life.

Last but certainly not least, we partnered with the Homeless Coalition to secure her a spot on the housing voucher waitlist, providing Maria with a glimmer of hope and stability for the future.

Maria’s story is a testament to the strength of community support and the incredible difference it can make in the lives of individuals facing adversity. It serves as a reminder that, when we come together to help those in need, we have the power to create profound and positive change. Maria’s journey is a shining example of the impact we can have on the lives of others when we stand united in support and compassion.

Let’s continue to be a beacon of hope for those like Maria and make a positive difference in our community.



Ad.vo.cate: one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal; one who supports or promotes the interest of a cause or group; one who pleads the cause of another. 

We each have a cause, proposal, project, group, idea, etc., that we champion-something we believe deserves our voice and support. And there are moments we are given the opportunity to advocate for our causes in spaces that hold great influence and power. 

For Talbot House, the cause is homelessness and the space was Capitol Hill. 

On July 19, Talbot House Ministries Executive Director Maria Cruz and Director of Programs Deborah Cozzetti represented Polk County as they participated in the 2023 National Conference on Ending Homelessness and Capitol Hill Day.

Capitol Hill Day is a national event coordinated by the National Alliance to End Homelessness where representatives across the nation are empowered to engage in federal advocacy to help end homelessness.

Below are Maria’s reflections on her time in DC. 

As I walked through the halls filled with passionate advocates, policymakers, and change-makers, I felt an overwhelming sense of purpose.”

“The atmosphere was charged with energy and determination, a collective resolve to address the challenges faced by the homeless community. It was truly humbling to be part of this gathering, surrounded by individuals who shared the same vision of a more compassionate society.”

“Throughout the conference, we had the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions, attend enlightening seminars, and collaborate with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds.”

“The exchange of ideas and experiences strengthened my resolve to fight for the rights and well-being of the homeless population.”

“I was amazed by the wealth of knowledge and innovative solutions presented, as well as the genuine empathy that permeated every interaction.”

“As I stepped into the congressional building, I couldn’t help but reflect on the journey that led me there.”

“Advocating for the homeless had been a lifelong dream, nurtured by empathetic encounters and a deep desire to make a meaningful difference.”

“The realization that I was representing our agency before esteemed individuals, sharing my voice on behalf of the marginalized, was immensely fulfilling.”

“We spoke passionately about the urgent need for affordable housing, comprehensive support systems, increased wages for front line staff, the need for housing choice vouchers and programs aimed at empowering the homeless to rebuild their lives. The response was overwhelming.”

Delegates expressed their support, raised pertinent questions, and shared their own experiences in the field. The sense of solidarity in that room was palpable, and it reinforced my belief in the power of collective action.”

Not only did the team leave DC fulfilled, they left DC having left an impact. Directly following Capitol Hill Day, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill was released. 

In the bill these key actions were included:

  • $3.9 billion for Homeless Assistance grants (a $275 million increase more than the previous fiscal year AND $75 million greater than what was asked for)
  • $25 million for staff cost of living increases.

The collective voices of the nations homeless advocates were heard and change was made. 

What about you? What will you lend your voice to? We’re all advocates, what’s your cause?