Miami single mother of four looking for a job, a place to live

For most of their lives, Lorena Torrente’s family survived on ice cream.

The single mom of four has been selling this delicious cold treat in her Liberty City neighborhood for years to help put food on the table and pay her bills.

Running an ice cream truck, she said, means you never know where you’ll find a customer or how much you’ll earn. But she had her regulars. Its popular flavors were strawberry shortcake and chocolate.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the Torrente business was hit hard.

No one wanted to go out. Many have lost their jobs. Torrente had to stay at home with the children, who were now learning online.

And then the engine of his 1996 Ford Econoline ice cream truck died.

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Torrente, who was pregnant at the time of her fourth child, did not have enough money to repair it or buy another one. And the few employers who were hiring didn’t want a dropout pregnant, the 40-year-old said.

Her family lost their home and scrapped the truck. In December, using what was left of her savings (and with the help of a friend), they moved into a hotel room. But they couldn’t stay there forever. An online search led Torrente to the Miami Rescue Mission Broward Outreach Centers, also known as The Caring Place.

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Lorena Torrente with her four children, left to right, Rafael, 3, Noelis, 10, Melissa, 9 months, and Noelia, 15, on a bunk bed in a temporary shelter run by the Miami Rescue Mission . The family remained at the shelter for a short time after Torrente became homeless during the pandemic after losing his income. The family lives in another temporary home and needs permanent accommodation. Children also need clothes and school supplies. Emilie Michot emichot @ miami herald.com

The organization gave her family a room with bunk beds at their temporary shelter in Miami Gardens and then moved them to a temporary home, which they share with two other families. Torrente and her children – Melissa, 9 months old, Rafael, 3, Noelis, 10, and Noelia, 15 – share a room.

Torrente arrived from Nicaragua to the United States at the age of 9 with her parents in search of a better life, never thinking that she would one day be homeless. Her goal is to get a GED so that she can find a job to help others. She dreams of a better life for her children.

“I tell them every day to study, to finish school, to have a career, so that they can afford real life when they grow up because if you don’t study, if you don’t no job, you don’t earn that much, ”Torrente said.

Torrente now works as a food delivery driver because she couldn’t find an employer who was willing to hire a high school dropout and pay her well – enough to live in affordable housing.

The food delivery gives her the flexibility she needs to take Rafael to his weekly therapy sessions to find out why he has a speech delay. But it’s difficult, she said, because she can’t leave the children alone and has to take the four of them with her.

She doesn’t earn enough money either. Unlike hourly jobs, Torrente is paid for every delivery it makes. She thinks it will be better once they have a house. Then her children, who are in the virtual school, can return to the in-person learning and she will have more time to work, both as a food delivery driver and as a carpool driver, until ‘she gets her GED. At least that’s the plan.

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Noelis, 10, comforts his brother, Rafael, 3, in a temporary shelter run by the Miami Rescue Mission. The siblings, along with their two other sisters and mother, Lorena Torrente, called the shelter for a short time and then were moved to another facility. Torrente became homeless during the pandemic and is in need of housing. Rafael undergoes tests as they try to determine what is causing the delay in his speech. Emilie MIchot [email protected]

“It’s not easy being a single mom,” Torrente said. “It’s hard to do everything on your own. “

The mother’s dedication to her children is the reason Joyce Benjamin, her case manager, nominated her for Wish Book.

“Hugs and affirmation. It’s Lorena, ”Benjamin said,“ always trying to give her children hope ”as she works to find them a home.

Torrente’s wish this holiday season is to get two laptops to help her and her kids study, a tablet for her son to practice speaking, and new shoes, clothes and toys for her. their children.

Torrente, with the help of the Miami Rescue Mission, has applied for housing and is hoping she will find housing soon. She still needs a job.

“If I have to work in something I will, I don’t mind,” Torrente said. “If I have to work in the household or in a store, I will do anything.

For now, she will continue to deliver food to try and save money for a new location.

“Someday we’ll have our own place that won’t be the ground,” Torrente said.

How to help

To help this candidate and 150 other candidates who are in need this year:

To donate, use the coupon found in the newspaper or pay securely online via www.MiamiHerald.com/wishbook

For more information call 305-376-2906 or email [email protected]

The most popular items are often school laptops and tablets, accessible furniture and vans

Read all of the Wish Book stories at www.MiamiHerald.com/wishbook

There’s never a dull moment in Florida – and Michelle covers it as a real-time / breaking news reporter for the Miami Herald. She graduated with honors from Florida International University, where she was editor-in-chief of Student Media PantherNOW. Previously, she worked as a news editor at WSVN Channel 7 and was a 2020-2021 Poynter-Koch Media & Journalism Fellow.

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