Salvation Army helps homeless Austin family get back on track

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — To many of us, the holidays means spending time with family or hosting parties. But there are hundreds of homeless people facing another winter on the streets.

For Markiese and Leslie Hershkovitz, it’s not the life they had planned for their four children.

“Being an assistant general manager, that warranted me a very decent lifestyle. Then losing it all gives you a whole different perspective on things,” Markiese said.

Markiese, an Army veteran, had a full-time job working at a local restaurant. During that time. the family was living with Leslie’s family.

“Things went awry and that situation was no longer good for us,” Markiese explained. The Hershkovitz turned to one of Markiese’s coworkers. That didn’t work out either. “We had to move on from there, but we had nowhere else to go from there.”

For the next three months. the Hershkovitz lived out of the family van—parking in different parking lots at night—trying to stay afloat.

“Three months doesn’t seem like a really long time but for kids especially, that’s like a year,” said Leslie. “We just tried to keep them occupied and distracted enough.”

“They started asking when we were going to go home and I just had to keep letting them know that right now this is our situation and we’ll have a home soon,” Markiese said through tears.

The family never gave up trying to find help. One day, the local Salvation Army in Austin finally had enough room for all six of them at the shelter.

“I can lay them in a bed and they can relax, they can shower, they can go to the bathroom without having to drive a mile to the store,” Leslie said.

From there, the organization helped connect them to case workers, veterans assistance programs and a way to get the kids enrolled in school. They also helped the Hershkovitz family find a place of their own through a housing placement program.

“It gives you a new found appreciation for the small things,” Markiese said.

This is the first step in their fresh start because when family means everything, you fight to keep it together.

“To be able to wake up in a bed and walk to my kids room and put my kids to bed at night, that’s the best part,” Leslie said.

From now until Jan. 4, the Salvation Army is running its “Ring in A Miracle” campaign. HEB and Central Market stores throughout Texas will offer their customers the opportunity to support the local Salvation Army through point of sale transactions at the checkout counter in $1, $3 and $5 increments. All donations will stay within the communities served by your local H-E-B and Central Market stores.

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