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Financial Resiliency

Amilia’s Story

Growing up in Dallas, Amilia’s family were what she described as ‘average’. They lived paycheck to paycheck and moved often from rental to rental.

When Amilia was 13, her parents were able to purchase their first house – a game-changer for the stability of their family. She remembers the difference that made on her childhood and wanted the same for her family.

Amilia worked at CVS and her husband worked in construction. Despite their best efforts, they, too, struggled to make ends meet for their family of five, living paycheck to paycheck and jumping from rental to rental. When they had their fourth child, Amilia knew it was time to break the cycle of poverty. Her husband got a better paying job, she stayed home to avoid paying for childcare and they started saving for a house of their very own.

But they knew that if they truly wanted to make their dreams a reality, her husband would need to become a U.S. citizen, a lengthy – and expensive – process that took more than five years and $20,000 to accomplish.

Amilia was determined, but she knew she couldn’t do it on her own. By the time Amilia reached out to Catholic Charities Fort Worth, her savings had dwindled to just $2,000 – a respectable sum, but nowhere near enough to achieve their dreams of becoming homeowners.

Amilia and her Navigator, Dina, got to work right away. The first thing Amilia learned was the difference between a want and a need. She was already saving on a regular basis, but she needed help prioritizing her expenditures.

Instead of spending most of their income on groceries, Amilia visited food pantries to supplement their family’s staples.


"Without Catholic Charities Fort Worth, we would still be stuck in a cycle of renting and living paycheck to paycheck."

When her daughter wanted to hire a professional photographer for her quinceañera, Amilia bought a camera and taught herself how to use it.

When her family wanted to go on vacation, Amilia used her credit card rewards for a beachfront Airbnb in Rockport, Texas. They drove six hours each way and bought their own groceries instead of eating out. The entire seven-day vacation cost less than $500.

“We jumped into the sea,” said Amilia. “I had never done that before. I felt a sense of freedom. We enjoyed our vacation without having to worry about how we were going to pay it when we got home. Catholic Charities taught me to plan ahead and save so that I could actually enjoy this time with my family.”

But getting approved for a mortgage proved much more difficult to accomplish than saving on photographers, vacations or food. With her Navigator’s help, Amilia returned to work at CVS, enrolled her children in low-cost childcare through Child Care Management Services (CCMS), and increased her savings from $2,000 to more than $17,000.

Shortly after Amilia graduated from services, her family was approved for a $265,000 mortgage. “I actually cried,” said Amilia.

“Without Catholic Charities Fort Worth, we would still be stuck in a cycle of renting and living paycheck to paycheck,” Amilia continued. “Now, my husband makes $27 an hour and manages his own crew, I was promoted to Supervisor at CVS, we’ve almost paid off our truck and we have a home.”

Part of what makes CCFW’s programs and services so unique is that, by the time our clients leave our services, they’re equipped with all of the tools they need to continue to thrive on their own. As Amilia’s Navigator, Dina, puts it, “Amilia always says that I’m the one who helped her, but she’s the one who walked through the doors. I just opened them.”

“Dina means so much to me,” Amilia said. “She’s become a part of my family.”

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