Wednesday, August 9, 2017 2:39 PM

Turning Hardship into Happily Ever After

Jesus and Joanna Roque recite their wedding vows in the Bank of America Healing Garden at Terry House.

We’ve had many “firsts” here at Terry’s House over the past six and a half years, but never a wedding! That is until last Saturday, when Jesus and Joanna Roque returned to their home-away-from-home to say “I do” in the extra special place that became so close to their hearts this past year – Terry’s House.
This interesting wedding request came late last week. Our team was delighted to help and honored to be asked to participate in such an important moment in this family’s lives. They arrived at Terry’s House as strangers, but left as family. It was extremely special to have the opportunity to witness their extraordinary day and continue to support the Roques.
The wedding event quickly took on a life of its own and turned out beautifully with the help of House Manager Cindy Dunn’s wonderfully creative talent and the hard work of extra special volunteers the day of. I hope you enjoy hearing more about the Roque’s story and this perfect example of how the generosity of others worked together to create a new network of support for a family who really needed it.
Many have asked, “Why would anyone want to get married at Terry’s House?” But, after hearing more about this family’s circumstances and the way Terry’s House impacted their journey, it all makes perfect sense.
The premature arrival of little Jesus Jr. came when his parents, Jesus and Joanna and big sister Valeria (affectionately known as “Princess Sophia” by our staff,) drove all the way from Wisconsin to visit family and friends in Avenal. Their relaxing visit unexpectedly took a turn for the worst when Joanna went into preterm labor … several months early! Unfortunately, three pound Jesus Jr. arrived shortly thereafter and began fighting for his life across the street in Community Regional Medical Center’s Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Thank goodness for the level of care we are prepared to provide our tiniest patients 24/7!
Foundation Development Officer Diane Chrisman, Terry’s House Relief Manager and wedding witness Lupe Figueroa, Bride, Groom and past Terry’s Hosue residents Joanna and Jesus Roque, Sr. and baby Jesus Jr., Terry’s House Manager Cynthia Dunn, Terry’s House Director Christa Short and little Valeria “Princess Sophia” Roque pose for a group photo in the Terry’s House lobby.  

For four months this sweet family called Terry’s House and Fresno, CA, “Home”. Our team at Terry’s House and the amazing clinical team across the street quickly became the only support system this young family had. Once the reality of having a tiny preemie in the NICU set in, the Roques knew little Jesus’ journey would be a long one, and that they would endure great sacrifice to stay with him.

Due to the length of time the family would have to be here in Fresno, Jesus Sr. lost his job in Wisconsin and the couple experienced many other hardships in a short time. Jesus began looking for work here in town to ease the burden on his family. He soon came across an opportunity with Hye Class Towing where he could drive a tow truck at night and still find time to be with his new baby boy, daughter and Joanna during the day. This was no easy task, but Jesus’ coworkers at Hye Class Towing soon became friends and also wrapped their arms around Jesus and Joanna. They even helped with child care for Princess Sophia!

Jesus Sr., Joanna and Princess Sophia cut the wedding cake in the Rabobank Family Dining Area.

Thanks to the incredible clinical care provided to tiny Jesus, he slowly began gaining weight and his strength! After four touch and go months, he was finally ready to be released from the hospital, and we began preparing to say goodbye to another family whom we’d grown so close to.
Jesus Sr. loved his job and new work family, so much so, that the Roque’s decided to stay and create a new life here in Fresno upon checking out of Terry’s House. “Goodbye” quickly became “see you later” and we couldn’t be happier for this sweet family!
For so many of our families, circumstances like those of Jesus and Joanna arise daily. The “cost” of being far from home in medical crisis is often more than just one of inconvenience. It may also mean the loss of a support system, a routine, a job, a car, a house and more than we’d like to acknowledge, sometimes the loss of a loved one. Coping with circumstances like these becomes somewhat bearable only because families have a place like Terry’s House to call home. Our team works very hard to help navigate and support their individual needs throughout their journey.

Princess Sophia toasts Terry’s House Director, Christa Short with her sparkling cider in celebration of the nuptials.

We are grateful for the Leon S. Peters Host Family Program, our volunteer run Hosted Meal Program and Juanita’s Fund, all of which kept this family rested, healthy and comforted while they juggled the stress of their situation here. This wedding was a testament to how much of an impact Terry’s House makes in our families' lives and how strong of a bond it creates in the midst of trying times.
I am so thankful for all of the generous donors and volunteers who make Terry’s House home to so many appreciative families like the Roques each year. And, I look forward to our list of “firsts” continuing far into the future!

Christa Short
Director, Terry's House