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Motel Room Houses 11 for the Holidays

The image of 11 people living in a motel room sounds like an endurance test designed to eliminate contestants for a reality show.

Victor and Nancy Urbino and Family.

But that’s real life right now for Victor Urbino, his wife Nancy and nine boys ages ranging from two through 17. They’re all holed up in a small motel room in Southeast Albuquerque trying to work out where they should go from here.

I first met the family as part of our outreach to an area motel by Joy Junction’s Lifeline of Hope mobile feeding unit. I was immediately impressed by the youngsters’ good manners while waiting for food, and over the next few days learned a little bit of their story.

In mid October the family lost their house in a blaze. Victor told me at about 4 a.m. one morning the family was sleeping when they heard an explosion and their 15-year-old son screaming that the house was on fire. With the doors blocked, Victor and the family started scrambling out to safety through the windows.

Victor said neighbors called 911 and they all stood by helplessly, as the house burned. He said they also lost a vehicle parked inside the porch.

Neighbors helped them with the children and with a motel. Victor said three of his kids were flown to an Albuquerque hospital, two with carbon monoxide poisoning and his four-year-old son with burns on his face, chest, neck and arm. Nancy went with them, and Victor stayed in Las Cruces with the rest of the family for a few hours till they also went to Albuquerque.

I asked Victor how the fire started. He said his four-year-old had been on the way to the restroom when he created static on the carpet and made a spark. That caused an explosion from an apparently faulty stove leaking carbon monoxide.

Victor said a local charity was initially housing the family in Albuquerque, but the family’s size apparently made continuing that help an impossibility.

Victor said he was thrown back on his own resources. With the little money he had left after the fire, he got two rooms at a local motel. Paying for those rooms rapidly burned through those scant dollars, and Victor was forced to downscale to one room-paid for until Jan. 13 by a local ministry.

He said, “It’s really hard because I’m used to giving my kids lots of stuff, and lots of food and clothing. Now I see them with the same pants on for two days.”

Victor said his family’s size has made the family’s permanent housing situation very difficult. He’s trying, but the results are discouraging.

He said, “As soon as I tell them how many kids we have they would hang up the phone. My only solution is to buy a home, but I don’t have the funds for a down payment.”

Food has also been an issue, Victor said, but he credited Joy Junction’s Lifeline of Hope with ensuring the family all get at last one good meal a day.

Victor, a self employed car mechanic, said he also has a lot of problems with his health, including blood clots in his left leg and four clogged arteries on his heart.

He said, “The latest one they told me about is I have clots on my brain. I am taking Coumadin (a drug used to prevent blood clots from forming or growing larger) … to break up the clots.”

Victor said the needs of his family are so great he stopped paying attention to himself for a while, because he wanted to make sure they had everything they needed.

“However,” he said, “I know I need to keep up with my check-ups because there are times when I will just pass out. It is really dangerous for me, especially the one on my brain.”

Victor said his health issues make him worry whether he will even live long enough to see his boys grow up.

My Take

I’m so glad that through our Lifeline of Hope we can provide at least a little relief to Victor, Nancy and their children. Along with numerous other ministries and agencies, we will do all we can to ensure that this precious family gets the resources needed to ensure their ultimate stabilization in the Albuquerque community – where they want to stay.

As I have shared on a number of occasions, while the Lifeline of Hope has become an essential addition to Joy Junction’s ministry of compassion, it is very expensive to operate. To ensure that we not only continue our current operation, but even consider expansion of the Lifeline as well as our Joy Junction campus, will you please make a generous gift right now by going to Thank you in advance for anything you can do.

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