The Call that Saved a Single Mom’s Life
Mindy Reyes, a single mom of four kids, is likely still alive today thanks to a phone call from Major Wendy Faundez.
Mindy, an active part of The Salvation Army in Joliet, led by Major Wendy and her husband Major Dan, learned she had COVID-19 in late May. She was one of 39 people at the office where she works in the mailroom who contracted the virus.
Mindy immediately called her ex-husband to see if he could take care of their children until she recovered, but he refused. Soon, all four of them – 12-year-old Jerry, 9-year-old twins Henry and Henderson, and 7-year-old Priscila – all tested positive for the coronavirus as well.
A Life on the Brink
“The first three days I didn’t tell anybody,” Mindy said. She didn’t have any family in the area, and she was scared. But as she got sicker, with a fever, body aches, and “coughing, coughing, coughing all the time,” she called Major Wendy. “I couldn’t handle it. Everybody was sick and we were running out of food,” Mindy said. “I asked Major Wendy to pray for us, and to bring us some food.”
Major Wendy immediately worked with one of her board members, a single mom who had already taken Mindy under her wing, to buy and deliver the family some groceries.
Two days later, when Major Wendy was making good on her promise to pray for the family, she felt a nudge to call Mindy and ask if she could breathe. “I felt in my spirit that she was in danger,” she said.
When she called Mindy, “She couldn’t get any words out she was coughing so hard,” Major Wendy said. “It was clear she was in distress.” So Major Wendy called 911 and asked for an ambulance to take Mindy to the hospital. Because she lives close to the station, they arrived within minutes.
“The hard thing is that they couldn’t take her kids too,” Major Wendy said. The ambulance could only take one person to the hospital. So as she was coughing and struggling to breathe, Mindy also watched her four children crying and fearful as their mom was taken away in an ambulance.
An Army of Help
By the time Major Wendy got to the house, the ambulance was already gone. “Keeping a safe distance and wearing my mask, I talked with Jerry, the 12-year-old – asked him what they needed and told him we’d get them some food,” she said. Then she rushed to the hospital to check on Mindy and let her know she’d look after her kids. There, she found that Mindy was on oxygen and had been diagnosed with bronchitis and pneumonia in addition to COVID-19.
“We didn’t know how long she would be in the hospital,” Major Wendy said. “We sent out requests for prayers.” And Wendy was in constant contact with Jerry via text. “Because I’m so close to Mindy and her kids, it felt like this was happening to a family member. It’s a life-threatening illness. I felt very helpless.”
After spending one night in the hospital, Mindy was feeling a bit better and was eager to get back home to her children. She had to sign papers saying she was leaving the hospital earlier than the doctors recommended. “I could have stayed there up to ten days,” she said, adding that her kids would have been sick at home alone the entire time.
While the whole family recovered at home, Major Wendy and the Salvation Army community brought groceries and meals to their front porch every day. “When I reached out to our church family to organize meals, within a day I had the next ten days covered,” Major Wendy said. She recalls the children pressing their faces against the windows each time they put a meal on their porch, straining to see what was being delivered.
“That help was really important,” Mindy said. “Without that, we would have had no food in the house.”
While it was touch and go for a while, by the end of ten days, everyone was doing much better. It was a month before they all tested negative for the virus. By that time, Mindy hadn’t worked in months. Now the struggle turned financial.
The company Mindy worked for is still closed, and no one knows when it will reopen. Mindy applied for unemployment. “But that takes forever,” she said. In the meantime, she started looking for a new job. “It was really hard for me because you have to say you’ve had COVID, and no one wants to hire someone like that. Maybe she’s still sick, they think.”
While Mindy kept applying, The Salvation Army helped with her electric and gas bills. And, of course, her friend Major Wendy has been checking on her regularly – and praying. Those prayers, and Mindy’s involvement in the Army’s Pathway of Hope program, have proven fruitful. “We helped her find a job. God is good!” Major Wendy said.
As she reflected on the whole journey, Major Wendy said, “It was a busy day when I felt compelled to call Mindy. I was running around getting food for our weekly pantry. In the middle of that chaos, I’m so thankful to the Lord for using me. It’s an encouragement to all of us in the busyness of life to listen to God and stay connected to people.”
Mindy is certainly grateful Major Wendy listened to God that day. Soon after she and her kids tested negative for the virus, she posted on Facebook, “Today is a very special day for me and my children after spending more than a month sick and I was about to die from lack of oxygen due to the COVID-19 virus attacking my lungs and causing bronchitis and severe pneumonia. Thank you to my God who sent my friend to call 911 when I could no longer breathe. God gave me another chance at life!”
Learn about all the ways The Salvation Army is responding to the coronavirus – as well as how you can help – at salarmychicago.org/coronavirus.
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For tax purposes: The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division EIN is 36-2167910.