The Ward family

Sabrina and Eric Ward stand for a photo with their 1-year-old son, Landon, at the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization shelter on DeKoven Avenue.

PAIGE WESLASKI, For The Journal Times

Angels: they live among us. Sometimes they hide their wings, but there is no disguising the peace and hope they bring.

Just ask Eric and Sabrina Ward, a couple celebrating nine years together this March. The duo (along with their 1-year old, Landon) found themselves scammed out of a fraudulent Craigslist apartment, living in a hotel, and quickly running out of money — until they discovered HALO.

HALO (Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization) is fittingly named, orchestrated and run by an angelic crew who create an atmosphere of peace and hope for each of the shelter’s occupants.

I met the Ward family last weekend on a tour through the HALO shelter, located on DeKoven Avenue. I wanted to know what HALO was all about, having heard through the grapevine the wonderful deeds they were doing for our community.

Strolling past the outdoor jungle-gym and into the front cafeteria, I encountered about 30 people eating a lunch of turkey, gravy, stuffing and the works, with smiles on their faces and children playing together. I walked down the hall toward the dorms, knocked on a door, and was greeted by Eric.

Eric’s room felt like a ray of sunshine, probably because of the literal sunflowers and trees painted brightly on the four walls. “Come on in for the grand tour!” Eric said with a laugh.

He explained how although he’s been working third shift at Warren Industries for a couple years, he ran into some tough luck. “My wife, Sabrina, and I were scammed out of a Craigslist apartment; our money was stolen, so we had to move into a hotel. Our savings were dwindling and we had nowhere to go. Then, by the grace of God, we found HALO — our saving grace.”

Eric described how the quaint room was more than enough. “My son, Landon, has the time of his life in the little ‘playroom’ we created for him,” Eric shared as he nodded toward a few toys in the corner.

Holding a red leather Bible, Eric had a positive outlook. “It’s definitely brought my family closer, living in one room, and we’re trusting God. He brought us here for a reason. We go to church every Sunday, and I know if we stay here a couple more weeks, we’ll save up enough to move back into our own place.”

“We have nothing but praise to share about HALO. They are a stepping stone toward success for our family, and the executive director, Gai Lorenzen, has been a huge help — truly an angel.”

Once his wife, Sabrina, entered the room holding Landon, it was game over for me (I’m a sucker for little ones). Wearing a pinstriped onesie and waddling toward me with a giggle, I knew right then and there that although little Landon was at a homeless shelter now, through the help of HALO and his determined parents, he would have a future as bright as the sunflowers on the walls.

HALO is reason No. 1 to believe angels exist in the community of Racine; little miracles are happening every day in that nondescript building. Pope John Paul II once said “a society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members.” And with angels administering miracles at HALO, I’d say Racine fares strongly.

Paige Weslaski, born and raised in Racine, is a Pepperdine University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in leadership. Paige, 25, has lived in New York, Los Angeles, Europe and Central America, and is now working as an account executive of a marketing company in Downtown Racine.

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