As spring break wrapped up for Antonio Garcia, the Army veteran looked forward to getting back to Fisher College in Boston to finish his sophomore year and move closer to his degree in business management.
Antonio had enlisted in the military in 2014 and worked as a wheeled vehicle mechanic. However, during a training exercise, he was injured, which led to his medical retirement in 2016. After leaving the military, he earned his associate degree from Miami Dade College and then entered the honors college at Fisher College, where he worked as a resident assistant and in the registrar’s office. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everything turned upside down.
A phone call from the college was the first in a series of events that ultimately would see Garcia and his mother, Michelle Bracco, also an Army veteran, homeless and jobless. As the federal and state governments required self-quarantining to combad the spread of the virus, college classes moved online, and Garcia needed to retrieve his belongings from his dorm.
He drove with his mom, Michelle Bracco, from her apartment in Florida to Boston. On the way back, his car broke down, and they couldn’t get it started. Garcia spent almost all of the $1,000 he had in savings to rent a U-Haul truck to complete the unplanned move.
Back in Florida, they got more bad news. Bracco was fired from her job as a paralegal with a bankruptcy attorney because the firm was unhappy that she would have to self-quarantine for two weeks after traveling. On top of that, the apartment she shared with a roommate had flooded with sewage water while they were away.
Frustrated because it wasn’t the first incident with the apartment complex, Bracco decided she and Garcia would leave. They loaded what they could salvage of her belongings into the truck and went to stay with a cousin, who let them stay in a travel trailer in her backyard.
The pair’s fortune changed when Garcia applied and received $1,900 for security deposit and rent on a new apartment through Operation Homefront’s Critical Financial Assistance (CFA) program.
Bracco is hopeful she will be hired for a remote position as a paralegal, and Garcia is seeking a part-time job. He is looking forward to adapting to online classes and moving into the new apartment.
“(The apartment) is nothing big, but it’s what we need,” he said. “Because of Operation Homefront, we have that.”