The Moreno family knows what it’s like to be close to homelessness.

In the fall of 2012, Teresa Gamez Pérez thought she might be pregnant with her third child when she got the news that her husband had been incarcerated.

For years, he’d worked on construction jobs throughout various cities across the country while she, her mother and two sons lived in a North Austin apartment. Gamez Pérez’s housekeeping job wasn’t enough to support the family on her own. And suddenly she had to think about a little girl joining the family.

"What am I going to do on my own?" she thought. She debated returning to her native Mexico but then thought about her children’s education in the U.S. Her eldest son, Kevin Moreno, was a sophomore in high school, and son Dylan Moreno was in the sixth grade.

The Moreno family is part of the Statesman’s Season for Caring program, which helps hundreds of families each year through local nonprofit agencies. The Moreno family was nominated by Foundation Communities.

Without her husband’s income, the family began struggling to pay rent. Bills started to stack up, and they were forced to move out of their apartment. Kevin Moreno, now 23, began working after school and on weekends while juggling his schoolwork to help support the family.

Desperate to find resources, Gamez Pérez, 44, asked those around her about places that might be able to assist them. But no one seemed to know exactly where to go for help.

When a friend from church offered the family a one-room studio space in her backyard to stay until the baby was born, she was grateful. But the situation was less than ideal.

Dylan, now 19, remembers enduring the hot summers with a single air-conditioning window unit that they preferred not to turn on because they couldn’t afford the electric bill. Sometimes when the shower would break down, the family resorted to using a bucket full of water to bathe.

"Don’t despair," her mother, Diamantina Pérez Gamez, 63, would say. She’d constantly pray for the family to overcome the hardships. She told them not to see a new baby as an obstacle, but a blessing.

"I thought that as soon as we saw her, she was going to give us the motivation and will to push forward," Pérez Gamez said. And she did. "This little girl became like an engine for us," the grandmother said.

When Avia was born, her mom knew she couldn’t let herself fall apart. After living for about three years in the cramped studio, Kevin Moreno secured a two-bedroom apartment for the family through Foundation Communities. His younger brother earned a scholarship to the University of Texas, and the family hopes to create a more secure future for Avia.

Family members tell her stories about how she’s helped them get through dark times and that they consider her a miracle. Avia now tells them that Jesus brought her to them because they were sad.

The family, like many of the Season for Caring families, has cobbled together pieces of well-worn furniture to fill the apartment. Many years Season for Caring has been blessed with donations from furniture stores or from families that are downsizing and have barely worn furniture that needs new homes. This hasn’t been one of those years.

The Moreno family needs living room furniture, a dining room table that seats six, a desk and chair, and a TV stand. The family also needs wall shelving and organizational systems. (Foundation Communities, 512-447-2026,

Mohammad Karim, 34, and his family, who are Rohingya refugees originally from Myanmar, have only one chair in their living room. They need everything for the living room, plus a dining room table and chairs, and dressers. (Interfaith Action of Central Texas, 512-386-9145,

Monica Beakley, 47, has stage 4 cancer that spread from her lung to her brain and is caring for her son Jesse Jakob Estala, 19, who had a traumatic brain injury 10 years ago and became blind and intellectually disabled. She would like a comfortable couch. (Wonders & Worries, 512-329-5757;

Nicole and Brandon Overton put off everything in their house as medical debt rose from the care of their four sons, three of whom have a blood disorder and/or a malformation that squeezes the brain. They would like a sectional couch that can seat seven people. (Any Baby Can, 512-454-3743,

Velma Pace, 84, who is caring for her husband, Johnny, 82, who has dementia, and her son Howard, 65, who was born with intellectual disabilities, would like living room furniture and a display cabinet as well as area rugs. (Foundation Communities, 512-447-2026,

Fatima Babiker, 33, came to the U.S. from Egypt as a single mom with four children. Her living room has a couch and chairs that have seen better days. She needs new living room furniture, a desk and desk chair, dressers for the kids, bunk beds, and a dining room table with chairs for six. (Caritas of Austin at 512-646-1277,

Amina Makamba, 34, who came to the U.S. from Congo and has 3-year-old triplets, needs dressers, a shoe rack, area rugs and storage systems. (Foundation Communities, 512-447-2026,

Eden Welply, 25, who became quadriplegic after being hit by a car in February, needs a desk she can roll her wheelchair underneath. (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, 512-541-4226,

All of the Season for Caring families have many needs still on their wish lists. The Morenos also need a second car, car repairs for their current car, a microwave and a family gym membership. Avia would like to take ballet classes.

Read all the families’ wish lists at