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Jesus Andres battled a brain tumor. He couldn't work, but he still felt guilty when his pregnant wife struggled to pay the rent.
Andres, a landscaper and construction worker, has always been his family's breadwinner, but the tumor disabled him.
"He said he blames himself for what is happening financially in their home," said Vivian Lozano, his translator. "But he said this program really helped him."
The Times Free Press Neediest Cases fund gave $300 to help pay the family's rent.
Readers contributed $47,000 to the fund that helped some 300 families during the 2014 season. This year contributions will be accepted through December.
Neediest Cases helps families like the Andres who may not qualify for other city programs, said Lozano, a client services coordinator at LaPaz who worked with the Andres family.
So far this year the fund has provided $150 in traveling expenses to get a teenage girl to her cancer treatments in Nashville and as much as $529.01 for a month's supply of epilepsy medication. It has helped elderly residents, people who are disabled, single parents, veterans and those with medical problems.
The money may not seem like a lot, but it can prevent a family from experiencing homelessness, provide transportation for medical care and prevent families from going through winter without heat.
"So because of this we can find a solution to a problem," Lozano said.
Andres came from Florida to Chattanooga in summer 2014 to start chemotherapy at Erlanger hospital. When the treatments kept Andres from working, his wife, Alicia, tried to find work but also had a hard time while pregnant with their fifth child. The family's finances eventually dried up.
Surgeons at Erlanger successfully removed Andres' brain tumor in September 2014, but seizures left him still unable to work. His doctor said he has to go six months without a seizure before he can work. He hasn't made it that long. His last seizure was in the past two weeks.
Andres' wife delivered her baby in January and started work less than a month later. She still has a hard time making ends meet. She tries to support her husband and five children, ages 14 to 11 months, with a minimum-wage job.
Lozano and the Andres family say they are grateful for Neediest Cases.
"It's a great program for families that find themselves in a bind and may not qualify for other city programs," she said.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.