In keeping with the mostly positive posts recently, here's a great Herald article
about a Miami family who is letting a family of New Orleans evacuees live in their house - rent free.
THIS is the real Miami spirit, not the one you see behind 2 tons of steel every day out on the roads.Louisiana family settles into new Little Havana home -- on loan
BY REBECCA DELLAGLORIA
Today, the Vega family from Louisiana feels a little less like nomads.
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, cousins, nieces and nephews -- 12 in all -- and two pet guinea pigs, are packed tightly into a four-bedroom house just off Eighth Street in Little Havana.
A Miami family, Jorge and Kristen Del Rey, offered up a house they own in Little Havana to the Vegas -- rent free -- for up to a year.
The Vegas don't mind the cramped quarters. In fact they are thrilled with them. The family spent the last month on the road, traveling between Louisiana and Florida, displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Some of that time they lived in a shelter. They also spent a few nights crammed into a two-bedroom apartment of a Miami-Dade County relative.
This weekend, as they moved into the Del Reys' house, the Vegas -- who all fled Metairie, La., a suburb of New Orleans -- were finally starting to feel at home. Friday was the first night that
Yelba Vega has slept in a month. Really slept.
''Just going to lock the door and turn off the lights -- it was the best night we've had in a month,'' said Yelba Vega. ``This is a jump start. What Jorge and Kris are doing is just unbelievable. It's a blessing.''
It was doing the right thing, say the Del Reys.
'My wife was nudging me, `what are we going to do to help the people from the hurricane?,' '' said Jorge Del Rey, a home builder and contractor. The house, which they just bought a month and a half ago, was an investment -- and they had planned to rent it.
''I got this feeling in my heart that we should give our house to a family who needs it,'' Jorge Del Rey said. His wife did, too.
''So when he said it, I knew that's what we had to do,'' Kristen Del Rey added.
CityReach Ministries, based in Kendall, connected the Vegas to the Del Reys. Jorge and Kristen Del Rey are members of the same church as Carlos Romero, who heads the non-profit.
Initially, another family was supposed to take the house -- a single mother and her three children. But the woman disappeared and the Vegas emerged.
At first, Kristen Del Rey admitted, she and her husband wrestled with allowing 12 people -- instead of four -- to move in. But then, she said, she thought about what it would be like if a storm ravaged South Florida and her family was left homeless and had to move to a new state.
'After I met them, I said, `We have to let them stay here,' '' she said.
Twelve people in four bedrooms will be a squeeze, but it's the best offer the Vegas have. Their homes in Metairie were all destroyed by Katrina.
When Yelba Vega went back to her home for the first time, her chest hurt from breathing in the mildew that covered the walls.
She also found a gaping hole in the bedroom of her 14-year-old daughter, also named Yelba.
''Jewelry my grandma gave me, pictures of my friends, a teddy bear I've had since I was five,'' says Yelba, 14, counting off the precious memories that washed away with the floods.
The apartment building where Margarita Vega and her 3-year-old, Isabella, lived no longer stands. Jack Vega said he found his house submerged in oily water. But it was the neighborhood that will haunt him.
''You could smell the death in the air. That's the only way I can explain it,'' he said.
When they fled their homes, the Vegas landed at a small Methodist church in Alexandria, La., that doubled as a shelter for about 100 evacuees.
They had little more than three days' worth of clothes with them -- and a television they had dragged along. They stayed for 10 days.
''We had reservations to go to Houston,'' said Jack Vega. But with thousands of cars packed onto the roads, ``it was just chaos.''
Another Vega sister, Abby, lives in Miami, so that's where they headed. For several nights, the family of 12 crowded into her two-bedroom apartment. It was Abby who sought out CityReach Ministries.
The Vega kids are eager to get back to school; their parents plan to enroll them in neighborhood schools this week.
''We had just started school for a week, so it's going to be hard to catch up,'' said 17-year-old Clinston. His cousin, Yelba, a high school freshman, said she expects other students to be welcoming -- although she anticipates a lot of questions.
Their parents will concentrate on finding jobs.
Jack Vega worked as a mechanic. His sister Yelba Vega was an administrative assistant for an import/export company. Now, they say, they'll take whatever jobs they can find.
STILL A STRUGGLE
As much as he appreciates the Del Reys' generosity, Jack Vega said it's still a struggle to accept their goodwill.
''I'd rather be giving,'' he said, ``Even though I'm the one in need right now, it's still awkward.
I'm not used to this.
''This is a big step for us,'' Jack Vega continued. ``Hopefully, when the time is right, we can move on.''
And maybe even offer some help of their own.
''Maybe six months from now, I can acquire property and give someone else a home,'' Vega said.