Homeless family receives help thanks to community efforts

Felipe and Angela Lopez started the effort to help a homeless family living in their van

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  • | 1:02 p.m. May 12, 2017
Felipe Lopez, right, saw these two children sleeping in a van. He discovered they and their parents were homeless and helped start the effortsto help the family.
Felipe Lopez, right, saw these two children sleeping in a van. He discovered they and their parents were homeless and helped start the effortsto help the family.
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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While shopping at the Winter Garden Village on Tuesday, May 9, Felipe and Angela Lopez noticed a white minivan sitting at the end of a parking lot. Something about it looked not quite right.

They decided to pull over and investigate the situation - a decision that changed a family’s life.

Peering into the windows, Felipe saw two children sound asleep. After talking with the children’s dad, Antonio, the Lopezes learned that the family was homeless.

“They’ve been living in the car for a while, and it broke my heart,” said Felipe, who is a former major-league baseball and the owner of Felipe Lopez Baseball. “Me and my wife work with kids, so we care about children. It’s very dear to me.”

The two exchanged numbers and the couple agreed to share the family’s story with their church. But Angela knew they could do more.

She invited the family over to their home for dinner, showers and a place to sleep. Then she reached out to her community for help.

Within three days, support has come flooding in. 

“This crisis has brought the community together for very powerful and impactful change, and that’s what it’s all about,” Angela said.

Within the last few days, Angela has gotten more than a dozen phone calls from people wanting to donate furniture, household supplies, clothing and toys to the family, although right now there is no place to keep donated items since the family is living in their van. Nearly $5,000 has been raised for the family on a GoFundMe page, and they’ve even received tickets for the family to spend a day at Disney.

“It’s been so amazing so far,” said Angela, who is the owner of Lagree Fit Windermere.

For Antonio and his family, the help has been life-changing. Although his wife had managed to find work, Antonio had been struggling to find a job. Angela said he told them that things had seemed to be going from bad to worse, but now the future is full of hope. 

Thanks to the Lopez family’s help, Antonio has already landed several job interviews this week. By Thursday afternoon he received a job offer to be a bagger at Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort.

“He’s going to do really well because he is such a humble and lovable guy,” Angela said. 

And because of the financial support from the community, the family is hoping to get out of their van and into a more permanent living situation. Until then, one of the Lopez’s neighbors has invited the family to stay in her home. 

It’s been all about helping a person in need, Felipe said. 

And with one success story already complete, Angela and Felipe said they hope their community continues to help those in need like Antonio and his family.

“We have the power to change our community if we aren’t selfish,” Felipe said. “I’m no better than any other man. I just have the love of the Lord in my heart, and this is what we’re supposed to do.”

To make a donation to help the family, visit their GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/3r6rze0.


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