Local cancer patient gets assistance through NeighborHOPE Project

Edna Rivera's tears are ones of deep gratitude for Barbara Tufts, a stranger who lifted her up when she needed it the most.

"I found a daughter; I found a friend. When I'm down, she keeps me up, and she keeps telling me keep fighting. You're a soldier. Keep fighting," said Rivera.

That fight has been a difficult one. Rivera was facing not only economic hardships but also a battle with cancer.

DONATE: FOX 13 teams up with Metropolitan Ministries for the NeighborHOPE Project

"Seeing the eviction notices, the electricity, the water bill," said Rivera.

"She got an eviction notice, and she's also was needing help for her lights, and there was any way that we can help her," said Tufts. " I don't think she needed this because having cancer and worrying about so much can also deepen your sickness, and you can get depressed on top of that. I really wanted her to stay positive and have hope."

Tufts has been helping people like Rivera get back on their feet. She's an outreach navigator in Hillsborough County for Metropolitan Ministries NeighborHOPE Project, which targets areas where families are most in need of support.

"My cases that I'm getting a lot is coming out also through the schools. Their needs that you won't even believe in. The parents are sleeping in their car with the children, and they have nowhere to go," said Tufts.

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Navigators come to the families to help get them out of those heartbreaking situations.

The NeighborHOPE Project looks for resources to help residents take care of immediate needs and provide opportunities for economic mobility. The goal is to transform high-need communities. In Hillsborough County, the focus is on zip codes 33610, 33619, and 33605.

"The cost of gas is going up, you know, a lot of things is making it difficult for the clients. We can help them with housing assistance. We can also help them with jobs. Our job is to make you self-sufficient. You know, our job is to help you not to come back into this," said Tufts.

With Tufts' help, Rivera has been able to stay in her home.

"I helped to submit the papers. I called the lady, explained to her that she was a cancer patient, and I'm trying to help with the rent. She was approved for her rent to be paid, so she wouldn't have to be evicted," said Tufts.

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Rivera is thankful for those answered prayers and a new beloved friend.

"I'm back on my feet. And what can I say? She's the best," said Rivera.

FOX 13 is teaming up with Metropolitan Ministries to help the NeighborHOPE Project. If you would like to donate to The NeighborHOPE Project Impact Fund, click here. Donations up to $50,000 will be matched.

For more information about The NeighborHOPE Project, click here