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When Gabriana Marks and her mother Jude Marks came to Hebrew Free Loan for help last summer, they were at a low point. Over ten years ago, Jude was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer and then suffered a stroke, so her daughter Gabriana left her job and moved in to care for her mother. Gabriana herself has some chronic health issues that make it difficult for her to work, so the two women rely on each other. They live on a small, fixed income and have to watch every penny.

Jude is in her 80s and doing remarkably well overall, but her mobility is limited, and she needs a walker or wheelchair to get around. Their only form of transportation was an aging Mini Cooper that was increasingly difficult for Jude to get in and out of. The car also lacked space for her mobility aids. And then it broke down altogether. Gabriana and Jude were stuck at home in Santa Rosa with no way to get to their medical appointments. The repairs were more than they could afford, and the vehicle didn’t meet their needs anyway.

It doesn’t come easily to Gabriana and Jude to ask for help. Both used to have successful careers — Gabriana was a journalist and Jude worked in instructional design for many years — and they worked or volunteered for their local Jewish communities whenever they could. They’d much rather provide help to others than ask for it themselves.

But they’d run out of options. So, they asked their friends and community for support, launching a GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds to buy a reliable, secondhand SUV. They still came up short, and their income wasn’t enough to qualify for financing through a bank or credit union. That’s when a friend reminded them about Hebrew Free Loan. They were quickly approved for an interest-free General Needs loan and found a used Honda CRV that was exactly what they needed.

“It was a godsend to get support from Hebrew Free Loan to buy this car. We’re free again! It changes our life on a daily basis to have a safe, comfortable vehicle. Every time we get in the car, we say ‘thank you.’”

Part of what’s inspiring about Gabriana and Jude’s story is the loving connection that flows between them. Both women face their share of struggles on a daily basis, yet they glow with appreciation for each other and the life they share. It’s always been just the two of them — Jude is a single parent and Gabriana an only child — and they say that having each other to lean on has been crucial.

Gabriana started a blog some years ago, #OneGoodThingDaily, and she and her mother make sure to find (or make) at least one moment of joy in each day. It might be savoring the fragrance of the flowers and herbs in their garden, taking a short walk, or baking something delicious. Or it might be going out for a drive in their car.

Gabriana and Jude are filled with gratitude for the Hebrew Free Loan community, and the way in which our interest-free loan lifted their spirits and improved their lives.

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