EP Beginnings

July 15, 2011 elishaproject

EP Beginnings

the ELISHA project is growing every day and many people ask, “Why are you doing this?” and “How did it start?”

We sat down as a family and decided that it was time for us to answer those questions on our blog for people to read themselves. We will try to keep it as brief as possible.

Our Inspiration: 

11 years ago our family was your typical young American family.  We had a 2 yr old son, a 14 yr old daughter (that lived with her mother – from a previous marriage), and another boy on the way.  I was a partner in a successful business venture and my wife was a stay-at-home mom. She lived for the children and I lived to make money, close big deals, and conquer the world.  On occasion, I found time to spend with my family (as long as work did not call – and it always did).

My company closed a big deal with a Fortune 500 company and we moved from California to the East Coast in order to satisfy the contracts.  We had plenty of money, friends, and some family.  We were relatively happy, but more importantly for me, we had need of very little.  My wife was 3 months pregnant when we moved.  She was a Huntington Beach, California girl moving to New England.

Over the course of the next 6 months, many things did not go our way.  There were problems with the company contracts, funds were moving slowly and things were getting stressful.  In the course of that time, we exhausted more resources than I care to disclose.  Things were getting scary but I knew that I could fix things and we would be fine.  Our monthly expenses were triple what I was bringing in.  But my ego wouldn’t let me see there was a problem.  Just in the nick of time, I was able to land a deal in December of that year which allowed us to get through and then some.

The project was labor-intensive and required me to be in California more than we wanted.  I offered my wife a Disneyland vacation to come with me and at 6 months pregnant and homesick, she agreed.  The next 6 months passed by and she delivered in California.  We were living in hotel suites and working on the project, living high on the hog.  I was happy and she,  not so much.  I launched a new business with my client and we landed a multi-million dollar contract.  My new son was born and I had not spent very much time with him or the family.

In June of that year, my wife gave me an ultimatum, the company or the family.  As dumb as I seemed, I picked the family.  I explained to my partners the situation and the fact that we had a brand new home in New England and that I would travel back and forth.  Everything seemed to be in order and perfect.

We arrived in New England and immediately the checks stopped with no explanation or warning.  We were due a large amount of money and I believed we would receive it eventually.  It never came.  The next 4 months saw all of our life savings wiped away.  No one was looking to hire an overachieving 35 yr old CEO with a six-figure need in New England.  The situation became so bad that we ended up going to a Food Bank for groceries.  Within 6 months we were losing our home, autos, friends, and dignity.  No one really believed us and very few sent help.  We were always the ones that helped others.  We found ourselves without a home and $145.72 in the bank that November.

My sons were 3 yrs and 6 months old and my wife was suffering from untreated plantar fasciitis (she could barely walk and we no longer had insurance).  We did not qualify for any kind of assistance based on the previous year’s income.  We refused to lie to get help and kept barely hanging on.  I was at my wit’s end and with all pride destroyed I took the offer my brother-in-law extended and went to live in Georgia.  Homeless, broke, embarrassed, ashamed, and feeling like anything but a man.

“We could help feed people so that they would not have to go through what we did.”

My brother-in-law and sister (Danny Center) extended their home and everything they owned to us.  They asked only one favor, that we would attend their church on Sunday…once.  My wife was a believer but I was not.
That Sunday we went to a little church in Douglasville, Georgia pastored by a quirky man named Pastor Dave Divine…that church was the Church at Chapel Hill. I came to Christ on a call from Pastor Dave on that Sunday and through their staff Pastor Frank, Pastor Jeremiah, and others we started serving in small groups.  Carrie got involved in the children’s ministry and I got involved in the Pantry with Pastor Frank.

We fell in love with the idea that we could help feed people so that they would not go through what we did.  Little did we know that God had a plan to extend that pantry to the streets and help us change the Giver as well as the recipient.  That church never cared about what we looked like or had, they only wanted to extend the love that Christ has bestowed on every one of us.

We vowed that when we got back on our feet we would make sure that we did something for those like us that need love, help, food, friends, etc.  In Georgia, God turned my life around and I enrolled in the Georgia School of Ministry.  We have never looked back and God has never stopped proving that He is Lord. We have never forgotten how alone we felt and how many people did not extend a hand to help.

We know what it feels like to have nothing and how it feels when people look at you as if you ARE NOTHING.  Well, we don’t look at people like that. And since then our family has grown to 6 boys, 2 girls, and many families involved in this project.


15 years ago we were homeless and now we feed both the hope-filled and hope-less.

The Ortiz Family