All of Bernadette Ortiz’s children had been taken away from her. So she says she is going to do things differently now that her daughter Serenity Michelle was recently born.
Especially, since she’s gotten some charity that will give her family a new start at life.
“I get to raise her in a different way than I raised my other kids — in a much better environment,” Ortiz, 39, told The Mercury News. “This is a chance to make up for mistakes I made with my other kids.”
Ortiz’s pregnancy was a surprise to her and her the baby’s father, Ricardo Lopez.
The couple met in a place called “The Jungle,” a homeless encampment in San Jose. Lopez ended up becoming homeless after leaving his job as a soil inspector and Ortiz became homeless after a domestic dispute with her ex.
The two moved into Grace Baptist Church homeless shelter after the city removed their tent from “The Jungle.” The couple was terrified after learning that Ortiz was pregnant since the shelter didn’t have the resources to accommodate a newborn and they would have to leave when the baby was born.
“Those shelters that do take them, they’re full. 60 families ahead of us. So she’s going to have the baby outside? What are we going to do?” Lopez told KTVU before his daughter was born.
Thankfully, the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County heard their story and wanted to help.
“The woman is about to give birth and they’d be homeless — it sounded a lot to me like the Holy family,” CEO Gregory Kepferle told The Mercury News. “Mary was homeless and gave birth to Jesus in a stable. Here is a family in a very similar situation 2,000 years later. As a faith-based organization, we have to help.”
They found a studio apartment where they will let the family stay in for free until they find jobs.
The nonprofit will be paying their rent.
“They have a long journey ahead of them to stabilize their living situation and get employment and make sure the child has a stable life growing up,” Kepferle said. “We’ve got a community that’s willing to wrap their arms around this family, and my hope is we can do this for many other families.”
Lopez is looking to get a job as an overnight janitor so he can care for his daughter during the day.
Ortiz is hoping to get a job working for the homeless.
Lopez and Ortiz say they are extremely grateful for the grace they’ve been shown.
“Knowing where we’ve been, where we’ve come from and all the challenges to get to where we’re at — it’s a miracle,” said Lopez.
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