Learn­ing tops list of needs for many

Fam­i­lies hope for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to con­tinue school and work train­ing.

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Ni­cole Vil­lal­pando nvil­lal­pando@states­man.com

Saif Al Zuwaydee, his wife, Rusul Khud­hair, and their three chil­dren are what the Amer­i­can dream is all about. At the start of 2012, the fam­ily was liv­ing in Bagh­dad, wor­ried Al Zuwaydee’s time as an in­ter­preter for the U.S. Army was putting the fam­ily in dan­ger.

They dreamed of a safer place, and in March, they ar­rived in Austin. With the help of Caritas of Austin and In­ter­faith Ac­tion of Cen­tral Texas, they quickly be­gan to build a life in their new city.

The Al Zuway­dees are one of 12 fam­i­lies fea­tured in the Austin Amer­i­can-States­man’s Sea­son for Car­ing pro­gram, which helps hun­dreds of fam­i­lies through fi­nan­cial do­na­tions ad­min­is­tered by lo­cal non­profit agen­cies.

Since the fam­ily’s first story ran Nov. 25, many of their needs have been met. The big­gest things still on their wish list are tuition pay­ments for Al Zuwaydee to get train­ing as a com­puter tech­ni­cian and for Khud­hair to be­come a cer­ti­fied child care­giver.

They are not the only fam­i­lies who need help fur­ther­ing their ed­u­ca­tion. Nine-year-old Aubrey Far­rell needs a math tu­tor to help her with school and help start­ing a col­lege fund. Life with the mus­cu­lar con­di­tion of Mar­fan syn­drome can be a chal­lenge and will even­tu­ally lead to heart surg­eries or a trans­plant. Math strug­gles should be the least of her con­cerns.

The Rosas chil­dren — Maria, 12; Jo­vana, 11; Yari, 10; Raul, 7; and Rox­anna, 5 — need tu­tor­ing to over­come learn­ing chal­lenges like dyslexia.

Many of our fam­i­lies need help with child care to al­low

their par­ent or guardian to work more hours. Ethel Wright, 65, can work at a Texas State Univer­sity din­ing hall only when her four grand­chil­dren — 2year-old twins and 8- and 10-year-old boys — are in school.

Malinda Fisher is re­cov­er­ing emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially from when her 1-year-old son, Aaron, was in the hospi­tal heal­ing from burns af­ter his fa­ther put him into a scald­ing bath. While she has a job at an as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­ity, day care as­sis­tance will give her one more step to mov­ing out of her sis­ter’s house and into her own apart­ment.

Anali­cia Rodriguez, who grew up in fos­ter care and now lives at the Austin Chil­dren’s Shel­ter with daugh­ters Anas- tashia, 3, and Aleina, 2, is mak­ing steps to­ward get­ting her own apart­ment. She’s look­ing for a job as a cer­ti­fied nurs­ing as­sis­tant and will need help with day care.

LaRonda Rowe, 19, who is now the guardian for sis­ter Patsy, 16, and brother Randy, 5, has seen some do­na­tions to­ward a col­lege fund. That money will help Rowe con­tinue school and could help Patsy in a few years as well. Their mother died in Jan­uary.

Jamie Yancy and Ed­die Cousins are proud of their old­est son, Bryant, 18, who passed his first se­mes­ter in col­lege at the Univer­sity of Texas at Ar­ling­ton with all A’s and B’s. They need fi­nan­cial help to help him con­tinue his stud­ies.

To help th­ese fam­i­lies with their ed­u­ca­tional needs, make a do­na­tion on­line at states­man.com/ sea­son­for­car­ing, or find the coupon in the pa­per daily to mail in a do­na­tion. You can des­ig­nate a fam­ily you’d like your do­na­tion to go to or have it go to all the fam­i­lies.

Aubrey Far­rell, who has Mar­fan syn­drome, needs a math tu­tor. Con­tact Ni­cole Vil­lal­pando at 912-5900.

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