Featured in the News Journal:
DAYTONA BEACH — Every night for five years, Madeline Mendez had to push aside toys, books, DVDs and all the other traps of her living room to clear a space where she could drift off to sleep.
Just a few feet away, her three kids would snooze in the two small bedrooms inside her cramped South Daytona apartment.
It was spartan living, but it was a step up from the eight months prior to that she was homeless and bouncing from a family member's house to another to avoid living out of her car, on the streets or in a shelter.
On July 11, Mendez stepped out of that years-long struggle to keep a roof over her son and two daughters and into a life she had only dreamed about. That was the day she moved into the Daytona Beach home she now owns.
"I'm really excited, and the kids are excited," the 35-year-old single mother said. "For me this is huge. I feel like I've been so blessed."