When Veronica Sandoval learned in July that the cost of rent to stay in the Beaverton house would increase by $100 each month and that her landlord might even put her home on the market in January, she knew she was in trouble.
It put Sandoval, a single mother with three children at home, in a bind not only because she couldn't afford the increase in rent, but also because she knew she would be in the second part of her recovery from a double mastectomy at the same time the house might go up for sale.
Enter Michelle's Love, a Scappoose-based nonprofit that helps single parents who are undergoing cancer treatment.
Sandoval had heard of the organization, which provides such things as financial assistance, meals and home cleaning for those in need, through an oncology nurse.
Andy McCandless, founder of Michelle's Love, said after discovering Sandoval's rent would increase an amount that she couldn't afford, her organization offered to help.
"I told her if she found a place we would secure her deposit/rent and we could move her if she wanted," said McCandless.
Sandoval, who attended Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, got married early and has spent most of her adult life in Beaverton, immediately got to work. She lined up an apartment on Southwest North Dakota Street in Tigard.
"We paid her first month's rent, reserved a U-Haul and sent an email to volunteers on Aug. 24, and within 24 hours, we had 17 signups," said McCandless. "We will pay her rent for an additional two months and provide meals so she can recover."
On Sept. 3, Michelle's Love volunteers moved Sandoval — who is scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday, Sept. 15 — into her new place.
Up to that point, Sandoval said she was nervous and under tremendous stress, having to think about how she would make ends meet.
"Oh my gosh, I was so grateful for them," said Sandoval. "They took a big load off my shoulders. I was struggling, I was, I mean I'm on my own so it's kind of hard to juggle everything together and then being sick, it was just was no fun."
Now she's in a two-bedroom apartment, a residence she calls "a little more snug for my kids, but we make it work."
"They understand what the dilemma is with women that go through … health issues," Sandoval said of Michelle's Love. "They don't even question you. They don't judge you."
An extremely independent person who hates being sick, Sandoval feels like one of the lucky ones to have received help just as she's getting ready to undergo a major procedure.
"It takes a toll on your mental health, your children. We don't know what the next step will be," said Sandoval, who is waiting to see what her prognosis will be once the surgery is over. "You just got to be tough."
The beginnings of Michelle's Love date to October 2005, when McCandless lost her best friend, Michelle Singleton, to cancer at age 32.
"She loved life and she loved her kids," McCandless wrote about Singleton on her website, michelleslove.org. "Her kids were her priority and she was a wonderful example of a mother to me and everyone around her.
No long afterwards, McCandless, along with help from her sister Bobby and financial support from Singleton's mother, helped found Michelle's Love.
McCandless said this year alone, Michelle's Love has provided $53,545 in rent and mortgage payments to those in need.
To donate or learn more about the organization, visit michelleslove.org.
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