Act of kindness turns into community support for one struggling family

A family from Tennessee found themselves homeless and talk about how hard it is to get out of the cycle.

DENVER - At 9-months pregnant it’s not easy to raise, entertain and feed three little boys, ages 2, 3 and 4 in a small hotel room. However, Tracy Ransbottom doesn’t seem to be focused on that at this moment.

Not long ago her family stood on a street corner just hoping to get enough money for one night at a motel. Now, with the help of the community, she, her three kids and husband don’t worry about where they’ll sleep each night.

“Somehow, we’ve always made it through,” Ransbottom said. “There were times I just wanted to give up. You know what, I couldn’t. I had three little people watching me.”

Ransbottom and husband Mike Wilson moved to Colorado more than five months ago from Tennessee, after “everything fell apart there,” as Ransbottom described it.

She said it was a “leap of faith.”

“Before we came, we called a whole bunch of agencies, seeing who could help and everybody said they could help; but once we got here, different story. Nobody would help,” she said. “I know, it’s not the ideal situation, but if we had to stay in a shelter or something to help us get back on our feet, that’s what we’d have to do.”

Ransbottom says her husband, a master welder, was getting day-labor-type jobs, but often the pay wasn’t enough to afford one night at a hotel.

“It's really a never-ending cycle, like once you get into that situation, it's really hard to get out,” she said.

That’s how the family ended up on a street corner with a sign, asking for help, Ransbottom told 9NEWS.

“As embarrassing as that is, we did it,” she said.

That’s how one day in May, the family met Denny and Mardee Macha.

“It was 8:30 in the morning, we passed that corner, they were standing on the corner with a sign, with the three little boys and my stomach just did a flip flop,” Mardee said. “I thought, ‘oh, those little boys out in the sun all day. These little kids, Oh my Gosh.’”

Mardee said she couldn’t even tell her husband. She was so upset. They kept driving to church.

“The sermon was on reaching out to others, duh” Mardee said, “So we get out of church and I said, ‘we gotta talk.’ I said if that family is still on the corner, I have to stop. I just have to stop. And see what their story is.”

Ransbottom remembers the day well.

“They stopped and they talked to you,” she said. “I thanked them because they asked us what our situation was. What was going on. They wanted to know how they could help. They started helping us pay for the hotel.”

The Machas have been mentoring the family since.

“It just felt like, let’s just hear their story,” the couple said. “If he's [Mike] willing to work, which we said, ‘are you willing to go to work? ‘Yeah, I want to go to work.’ So let’s give them a chance.”

The Machas helped Ransbottom’s husband get a full-time job. The family doesn’t have a car, so they help with transportation.

They worked with the family for a month and then found out their Grace Church in Arvada was working on an outreach effort to help the homeless in the city. Shelley Long started “One By One Helping Arvada Homeless” and created a community where struggling families are supported to get back on their feet.  

“All of a sudden, now a community is helping,” Mardee said.

“They [the family] really want to get on their feet, they really want to do something, so we’re there to support them,” she added, “Their kids call us grandma and grandpa and so, I think we’re in for the long haul. We just love them.”

“It's looking a lot better than what it has been,” Ransbottom said about the family future. “I'm excited for our little girl to get here any day. Just kind of taking it one day at a time. Like staying in a hotel. It's harder to save to get into a house, cuz you're paying every week, but we're saving. We'll get there.”

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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