Jason and Nycole Reyes came to this community in the middle of a battle for their lives. They were both overweight. Doctors warned Jason that, without a dramatic change, he would be wheelchair-bound by the age of 40. Nycole couldn’t safely bear children. So the couple decided to make a change. Almost concurrently, each of the Fort Worth natives underwent weight-loss surgery.
The process is simple in theory: reduce the size of the stomach to help control food consumption. But the overall effectiveness of the treatment depends on each recipient making intentional changes. Better dietary choices. More exercise. The weight doesn’t just fall off; most recipients gradually reduce their clothing sizes until they level out.
For the Reyes family — who, like many American families, live paycheck-to-paycheck — those changes meant more than a physical transformation. Their old clothes needed to go, and they would have to find temporary replacements for a season while they stepped down through various sizes to their goal weight. Eventually, they would need a completely new wardrobe.
The kind of change they needed couldn’t happen unless they had a consistent support system. Fortunately, the New Hope Center provided them with that and more, providing powerful reinforcement for a marriage that grows stronger every year.
‘The Second-Best Day of My Life’
Jason and Nycole met fourteen years ago, under a set of circumstances usually reserved for Romantic Comedies. Nycole was a hairdresser at Walmart. Jason, who had just moved back into the area and away from his adoptive family, could no longer rely on family to trim his hair for free. When he sat down in the waiting area of her salon, he had no idea that he was in line to meet his wife. In fact, he almost missed his chance.
“He came into the salon I was working at and asked for my phone number, and for some reason, I gave it to him!” Nycole said. Then, glancing sideways at her husband, she prodded:
“He tipped me after he asked for my phone number. He only tipped $2, and if I’d have known that beforehand I might not have given him my number.”
They laugh about the moment now, but Jason freely admits that he had bigger problems than his tipping habits. In hindsight, he’s amazed at the journey they’ve taken together.
“I wasn’t walking with God then,” he said. “I don’t know what it was about her, but at the time, I had multiple other girlfriends. For some reason, I decided ‘you know what? I don’t want that. I want just her.’ And it’s been history ever since. The second-best day of my life was when I met her and got onto the journey that we were on… the first best thing actually came after the second best thing. It was 2011 and our marriage was in disarray because there wasn’t God in it. I was in a dark place.”
In their struggle, Nycole turned to her faith. She “dragged” her husband to church with her. And that decision changed both of their lives.
‘I Want to Get Baptized’
When Jason recounts the morning of their church visit, he speaks with hushed reverence, as if he can hardly believe his own experience. He sat through the service, waiting for his chance to leave. Depressed and hopeless, he wanted nothing more than to leave without interacting with anyone. But the pastor caught him on his way out, and they found themselves in deep conversation long after the sanctuary cleared. A conversation in which the other man seemed to know Jason’s anxious thoughts, and insisted that Jesus could wash them away.
“I was going to kill myself that day,” Jason confessed. “God worked through him, to tell him exactly what I was going to do [in order] for me to believe that I was worthy of God’s love. I looked at him, and he just smiled. I said ‘I want to get baptized.’ Two weeks later, I got baptized.
“My life changed. I’ve had my rocky roads, but when I’ve needed something, God has provided. I’m just trusting God to guide my steps to where I need to be. That’s what [the New Hope Center] is; a place where God will guide you for help, or guide you to help other people.”
The family has come to New Hope several times over the years, usually when the budget is unexpectedly tight. Jason works as a landscaper, often discounting his work to help needy families afford his services. Neither his job nor Nycole’s operates on a predictable salary, and even their housing situation can fluctuate.
“We were living in an apartment around the corner from here, and we were about to move into a house,” Nycole said, remembering early visits to New Hope. “Something happened, the house fell through at the last minute, and we had told the apartments already — we had given notice — we were moving out… we ended up living in a hotel for about a year. That was crazy; expensive, no space. It was terrible.”
‘We Had to Have Help'
In those difficult moments, the couple came to rely on New Hope for food and clothing. They had one daughter at the time, and recently welcomed a son. The couple considers their newborn, Amaziah Solomon, to be a blessing; his middle name comes from the pastor who saved Jason’s life. But even in their celebration, the Reyes family needed consistent support.
“He’s a very big miracle. It’s after eight years of trying that we had him. And he’s the first boy in our family in three generations!” Nycole said. “We’ve been here a few times to get help. Then we both had weight loss surgery. He went from a Size 42 to a 30 and I went from a 20 to an 8. Having to supply clothes while we’re losing weight and then, once we balanced out, replacing entire wardrobes; it was expensive. And then we had [Amaziah] and we have an almost-eleven year old. With the economy the way it is, it’s hard to do it. We had to have help.
“This was the first place that we thought of… all of our clothes were donated here, and then we got new clothes.”
Both parents were grateful for the chance to meet and pray with volunteer counselors during their visits. The atmosphere and attitude of the New Hope Center staff made them feel welcome and safe; encouraged instead of looked down upon. So, empowered, they returned whenever possible to donate and replace clothing as they sized down. The New Hope Center became a Community Clothing Swap.
Our hope is that men and women in this community take after the Reyes family wardrobe: transformed over time, piece by piece, with every new selfless interaction. Will you join us in making that change a reality?
To find out more about the New Hope Center and how you can serve or support local families through it, visit 6stones.org/newhope.