Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Brittney LaCombe – A Mother’s Death Brings on Struggle

Brittney LaCombe – A Mother’s Death Brings on Struggle

other’s Day for Roseann LaCombe meant camping with her three daughters on the beach near their St. Petersburg, Fla., home. During last year’s trip, Roseann complained of mild leg pain. Later, she couldn’t bear weight on the leg and went to the hospital, where doctors kept her for observation. The next morning her eldest daughter, Brittney, then 20, received a call informing her that her mother had died of a pulmonary embolism. 

Without life insurance, the girls’ financial struggle started immediately. Roseann had worked in accounts receivable for an apparel company, but was unemployed at the time of her death and left only $300 in her bank account. Brittney’s part-time job as a customer-service representative at a local newspaper was no match for the bills. 

A week after Roseann died, shut-off notices arrived for the electric and water services, and the bank called every day looking for payment on the mortgage for their three-bedroom house with a pool. By the end of the month the girls, with help from Catholic Charities, moved to a small apartment. To make the rent and take care of her sisters, Brittney works full time. 

The new life is taking a toll on Brittney. She was forced to cut her course load toward a social-work degree to work more hours. She suffers from anxiety, worrying that even such a meager lifestyle could unravel at any moment. “If my mom had had life insurance, we would have been able to stay in our house and pay the bills,” Brittney says. “We wouldn’t have to struggle all the time.” 

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Karim Abouelnaga – The American Dream Put on Hold

del Abouelnaga and his wife, Mahassen, came to the United States from Egypt in search of a better life. An entrepreneur to his core, Adel worked long hours selling souvenirs at street fairs. Eventually, he opened his own shop at a prime location in midtown Manhattan. The couple was living their American dream: a successful business, five boys ranging in age from 16 to 1, and a comfortable apartment they owned in Queens, N.Y. 
Their life, however, was about to change. Adel was diagnosed with lymphoma. He died nine months later. The store was the family’s sole source of income, but Mahassen couldn’t run it and raise five boys on her own. She was forced to close the business, and sold off the inventory to pay for the funeral.

With no life insurance to help the family make a transition, life became a struggle. The family sold their home and moved into a small two bedroom apartment. The three oldest brothers share a small room dominated by their three beds; Mahassen and the two youngest children sleep in one bed in the other.

The older brothers are the family’s primary breadwinners. When not in school, they work to support their mother and younger siblings. When she’s not home cooking, cleaning and managing the household finances, Mahassen works part-time in a public school. 

It’s been three years since Adel died, and the family is doing better. Moez, 19, attends a city university and plans to start his own business. Karim, 18, maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school and attends Cornell University on scholarships he earned. Monzer, 17, a high-school senior, has his sights set on an opera career. 

“We were forced to grow up sooner than most kids,” Karim says. “But we’re going to make it.” 

Life Happens - Karim Abouelnaga

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