It never seemed possible until the landlord came to deliver the grim news.
The place the Olivo family called home, a three-bedroom townhouse in Davie, had been sold and they needed to find a new place to live.
But putting aside money for the family of four to move was a problem for Lissette Olivo.
“Everything happened so fast,” she said. “I didn’t have time to save money to get my own place.”
Her job, helping people create resumes and cover letters at an employment agency, does not bring in enough cash to pay the first and last month’s rent and security deposit landlords demand.
Not even the personal finance classes she attends could prepare Olivo, 37, to fill the financial gap.
During the past five years, Lissette Olivo and her children Alejandro Olivo, 10, and Adrian Olivo, 15, Adonis Olivo, 18, and Ashley Suarez, 21, created a life in their home on Live Oak Place in Davie.
This summer, she took in her niece Stephanie Sanchez, 17, who’d been having trouble with her parents.
But with their rental sold and no place else for them to go, friend Elizabeth Berrios invited them to move into her two-bedroom mobile home in Davie.
“When my mom died, she made sure I had somewhere to go,” explained Berrios. Now it was Berrios’ turn to return the favor.
Despite the cramped quarters, the friends make it work.
“There is no other alternative,” Berrios pointed out.
The move uprooted Adrian and Stephanie from Western High School, where Adrian ran track and played football.
Now they attend McArthur High in Hollywood.
“Some of the school work seems a little bit harder,” Adrian said. “I’m working now to catch up.”
Now, they both attend McArthur High School in Hollywood.
It took a week before Lissette Olivo found Plantation Park Elementary School for Alejandro, who has a learning disability.
“I went to so many schools and I couldn’t find a school that had the programs he needed,” Olivo said.
Ashley and Adonis moved out two weeks before they were put out of the town house and are living together in another area of Davie.
Olivo understands how difficult moving around is on her younger children.
“I went to a different school every year and sometimes three different schools in one year,” Olivo said. “That affected me a lot as a kid. That’s why I try so hard to keep them stable.”
But the family can find humor in their daily struggles.
They laugh about jockeying for a seat next to the only two windows that can roll down in Olivo’s white 1989 Mercedes.
There is no muffler on the car, either.
Olivo turned to Hispanic Unity, a social services center in Broward County, to aid her with managing her finances. The organization nominated Olivo for the Miami Herald’s Wish Book.
“Some people are going through the motions, but with Lissette you can see the real desire and she is always positive,” said Lucienne Brutus, who oversees the program. “I think that she is going to get out of her situation.”
In the meantime, Olivo warned her children not to expect any gifts this holiday season.
“I usually tell them don’t expect anything because I don’t have any money,” she said.
It’s been a few years since the kids have gotten anything besides socks or underwear for Christmas, which usually comes from their grandparents.
“I just tell my friends that I told my mom not to get me anything because my birthday is coming up,” said Adrian Olivo. And when his birthday comes, well, they will have forgotten about it by then.
Lissette Olivo hopes their sacrifices will be viewed as a life lesson for her children.
“I would rather not celebrate Christmas or birthdays,” Olivo said “But at least I know we live in an area where the schools are good and they have a better opportunity.”