Michaela’s Story

Dear Susan: My mom was reading your magazine on our front porch last night.

She loves to read and she gets magazines passed on to her by my grandma.  She must really like yours because she never passes it on to anyone else.  She has saved every issue that has been sent to our house. They are in a basket next to her bed. I want to tell you about my mom because she is a person that has always made the lives of others better…

I have an amazing mom.  I strive to be just like her.  She preaches to all of us about “kindness, love and compassion.”  She is a mom who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.  People are drawn to her.  She is warm, loving and nurturing.  She has a smile on her face for everyone. I am blessed to have her as my mom.  I have seen her make a difference in the lives of so many people.

By writing you, I am hoping to get her acts of kindness returned to her.  I am trying to follow in her footsteps.  I am trying to MAKE IT BETTER.  However, I don’t know how to go about making it better for my mom and family.  Can you help me?

I have tried writing letters to others for help,(even Oprah) but no one has responded.  My mom became a single mom.  She divorced my dad when he became abusive to her and my siblings (and myself).  This made us have money problems. I do not blame my mom because we are much better off with my dad gone.  My mom is a teacher at a Catholic school and doesn’t make a lot of money. We are about to lose our house to the bank. The night the man delivered papers saying my mom has to go to court because our house is in foreclosure was so sad for us.  My sister and I cried.  We have cried a lot over this. I am scared, but I am trying to help my mom and the rest of the family by reaching out to powerful people.

I am only twelve years old.  I want to be a kid who makes a difference. I want to MAKE IT BETTER!  I promise that if you can help me find a way to save my house for the family, I will go on and become an amazing adult who devotes her life to helping others.

Our house has been a place where people are welcomed as family.  In saving this house, it is not just for myself and family, but for all of those people my mom helps. Those from the past and those in the future. Over the years my mom has taken in kids whose parents were going through a divorce and helped them get through the tough times. She has been a mom to more than the four kids she birthed.  Any kid who comes into our house is treated like one of her own.   When a dad of one family of four lost his job and house, my mom allowed the family to come and live with my family until they could get back on their feet.  She drove an elderly woman across the midwest so she could see her family and the home where she was raised one last time before she died.  She has helped countless women give birth in her part-time job as a birth doula– many times without pay when she saw they couldn’t afford a doula.  She has helped a family have a Christmas when they had no means of doing it for themselves.  This past summer she organized a group of kids to come over and make brown bag lunches for the homeless people who attend the soup kitchen at Catholic Charities in DesPlaines. When she found out that a family with four small children was losing their home to foreclosure and they had no where to go, she found them a small house to stay in.

I could go on and on about all the times I have seen her do things for others.  She is an amazing mom, woman and friend who consistently MAKES IT BETTER for  those around her.  Ask anyone who knows her and they will tell you just how special my mom is.  She has been called an angel.  People constantly come up to me and tell me what a great mom I have. I know they are right because even though we are going through a hard time, I hear my mom talking to people about starting some organization that helps those in the same situation we are in right now. I am not sure what you could do, but I am reaching out to you for help.  Maybe you will be the one person who responds to me.  I have not lost faith that a miracle can happen.

Thank you for your time.  I will pray that you are the answer to my prayers.

Michaela L., Age 12

P.S.  My mom’s name is Mia.  You could call her xxx-xxx-xxxx,  I would give you my phone number, but she wouldn’t want me to do that especially since she doesn’t know I am writing to you.  Also, one of our favorite restaurants we used to be able to go to when my mom could afford it is called Noyes Street Cafe.  Do you own that restaurant?

Update: October 3, 2010

We called Mia, confirmed the authenticity of this request, arranged to meet the next day and mobilized MakeItBetter.net’s resources to help.

Received from Mia:

Dear Susan,
I am still in shock about getting a call from you.  My fingers are shaking as I type.  I just had Michaela open up her email and show me what she wrote. Wow!

My address is xxxx Skokie 60077.

Our house is an old bungalow.  We live on a double lot on the corner.  I will see you tomorrow at 4:00.


Update: October 4, 2010   4 p.m.
Positive sayings that are needlepointed and framed, the aroma of fresh baked cinnamon rolls and Mia L.’s timid, beautiful smile greet me inside the door of the red-brick bungelow.

Mia escorts me to the kitchen table where she hands me the foreclosure documents entered against her in court earlier in the day. She had no legal counsel.  She also shows me a photos of her family of nine.  She remarried 10 months ago—to the father of Michaela’s best friend. He has 3 children and works at a bank in Park Ridge.  She has 4 children and is a preschool teacher at St. P’s in Skokie, just a few blocks from the home.

Surprisingly, it is his employer who allegedly has foreclosed on their home.

“Thank you for responding,” Mia repeats often, “even if nothing else happens. This is good because it teaches Michaela that her efforts to be helpful can make a difference.”

We refer Mia to Connections For The Homeless and Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs. Their missions include helping people on the brink of losing their homes.

Mia promises to get a pro se attorney as well as contact these agencies – and to keep us informed.  She also claims that if they are able to keep their home, she will pay it forward by providing doula services for free to others.

Please join the initiative that Michaela launched. If you know of additional help or have other recommendations for this family, please let us know. Otherwise, we hope to be able to update you on progress in the near future.

Thanks for caring.