Couple Copes with Financial Strain of COVID-19 Thanks to The Salvation Army

Jul 6, 2020

Franklin Parra remembers the moment he likely got the coronavirus. He was an Uber driver and a woman he was giving a ride to kept coughing. He even felt her saliva on his neck. Those were the early days of the pandemic, when wearing a face mask wasn’t yet mandatory.

Things were about to get very challenging for Franklin and his wife, Marcella, prompting them to seek help from an old friend: The Salvation Army.

Soon after that car ride, Franklin got a bad headache that became worse by the day. Then Marcella woke up one morning and was so weak she couldn’t stand. “I’m diabetic, so I thought it was my blood sugar,” she said. “But I couldn’t even walk one step.”

Their grown daughter was concerned. She lives with her parents, so she saw the quick onset of their symptoms firsthand. “She was worried because I couldn’t stand up,” Marcella said. “She took my temperature and it was high, so she took me to the hospital.” She also took her father, Franklin, who was still feeling poorly as well.

Doctors determined that Franklin had pneumonia. They prescribed him medication, gave the couple COVID-19 tests, and sent them home to await the results. “After two days we received the bad news that we both were positive for coronavirus,” Marcella said. As their daughter cared for them, they developed all the classic COVID-19 symptoms: a dry cough, pain in their lungs and muscles, a lack of smell and taste.

“I couldn’t even go to the washroom,” Marcella said. “Those were terrible days. I kept thinking we were going to die.” One night, she felt death so near that she said her goodbyes to their daughter. “I started to pray Psalm 23. Then I saw a bright light, felt a hand on my head, and heard ‘Don’t worry, you are cured.’” When Marcella awoke the next day, she thought it was all a dream. But she felt strong enough to stand and started feeling better and better. “God gave me my life back,” she said.

While she was grateful to be alive and healing, their worries weren’t over. While they spent 35 days in bed, both Marcella and Franklin had obviously stopped working. Unemployment wasn’t an option, they were running out of money, and bills were coming due.

“I remembered The Salvation Army because many years ago I went to a Christmas program there and I knew they could help me,” Marcella said. When they contacted The Salvation Army Norridge Citadel Corps Community Center, they received financial assistance – one of many small grants the Army has been giving to those impacted financially by the pandemic – to help pay their rent. “Thank you! thank you!” she told the staff.

“My heart went out to the Parra family as I learned they tested positive for the virus and was unable to work. This is exactly the kind of situation the COVID-19 grants are for,” said Pamela Church-Pryor, the Army’s community ministries director in Norridge. “I'm so pleased The Salvation Army was able to come alongside this family and offer a bit of relief from the stress of wondering how to pay their rent. I continue to pray for this family.”

While they catch up on their bills, Marcella remains hopeful. Franklin is now working part time, and Marcella’s faith is renewed after her recovery. “I know God will continue with us,” she said confidently. She also knows they can turn to the Army for help. “God bless The Salvation Army!”

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.


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