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A tragedy created a desire to Pay It Forward, selling Homes for Heroes is now this woman's goal

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A Connecticut couple who transferred to Rutherford County in 2020 for a job, would experience unbelievable tragedy less than three years later and yet the outpouring of love and friendship after the tragedy changed their lives forever.

Rene and Francine Mira and their two children (ages 15 and 5) came to Forest City when Rene was transferred with Trellborg in Rutherfordton. The family knew no one when they arrived and began to make friends as their kids enrolled at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy.

While Rene worked with Trellborg, Francine was employed with financial investors with goals of making money. Being rich was a goal in the back of her mind.

But a horrible traffic accident in 2023 in Cleveland County changed their perspective on life.

Rather than having a goal of making money, Francine's goal is to help others, the way her family was helped after the accident. The car crash claimed Rene's mother's life and a month later his father died in El Salvador, where the family lives. Two other family members were critically injured in the accident.

Francine said her husband Rene was picking up his mother, sister and brother-in-law from the Charlotte airport. They were traveling from El Salvador for their first visit to North Carolina. The family planned to celebrate the mom's birthday and the couple's young daughter's birthday.

Francine was at their Forest City home with the children, when she got a telephone call from her husband. He told her he had been in a bad accident and was at the Shelby hospital.

The family was traveling on US 74 in Shelby when a male driver in another vehicle crossed over the barrier and struck their vehicle head-on.

Rene sustained serious injuries. His mom, sister and brother-in-law were transferred to a Charlotte hospital where the mother died because of her injuries.

It was a horrible time for the family, Francine said.

Rene's father in El Salvador died one month later due to broken heart syndrome.

While the family was dealing with the tragedy, Francine and Rene were the recipients of an outpouring of love from people in Rutherford and Cleveland counties.

"For a while, a whole month people were helping with my children," Francine said.

They did not expect this kindness from people they didn't even know.

A go-fund me page was set up by Trellborg employees to raise money to help send the El Salvador residents back home after recovery. The mother's remains were united with her husband's remains for a funeral service in El Salvador.

"It was just the love and support we received was beyond anything we had ever experienced," she explained.

"If we had still been living in Connecticut, we would never have received this kind of help," Francine said.

Neighbors and friends from Trellborg made sure the children received meals each day as Francine was traveling back and forth the hospital to help with those who were injured.

Her husband's sister and brother-in-law are still under doctors care and were back from El Salvador in January for follow-up surgery and visits. They will be back in April for further tests.

Every immediate need the family had during the time was fulfilled by people they didn't know.

After the experience and help from people in Rutherford and Cleveland counties, life changed for Francine. "Now my life is about helping others. I do not need to be rich. I want to help others," an emotional Francine explained.

Deciding to quit her work with investors, Francine began looking for ways to "pay it forward." One day as she was searching, she came upon the organization "Homes for Heroes" and she knew immediately that was what she was going to do.

"This is one of the reasons why I chose to join this Home for Heroes rewards program as a way to give back to the community. When we went through the accident the amount of support we received was just amazing.

"I want to help as many Heroes as I can," she said.

As Francine continued to research Home for Heroes rewards program she joined RE/MAX Journey in Rutherfordton to help find homes for heroes and others.

She became more aware of all those in Cleveland and Rutherford counties that could receive assistance when buying their own home or selling one.

Homes for Heroes is for firefighters, EMS, law enforcement, military personnel (active, reserve & veterans), healthcare professionals and teachers.

Because of the unfailing love and support the family received in Cleveland County and at the hospital after the wreck and the support she received in Rutherford, she is working in both counties to find rewards for Homes for Heroes for residents who are eligible.

These days Francine is taking the Homes for Heroes information to the veterans service office, businesses and even schools to help local heroes know they can buy a house and receive up to $3,000 in rewards.

Any hero can save money when buying or selling a home.

"I want to help as many heroes as I can," she said.

About Homes for Heroes

Shortly after 9/11 Homes or Heroes, Inc. was established as a way to give back and say, "Thank you" local heroes for all they do.

Heroes save an average of $3,000 when they buy or sell a home with ReMax Journey Homes for Heroes or $6,000 if they do both.

Those who qualify as a hero are firefighters (current and former), EMS, law enforcement, military (active, reserves and veterans) healthcare professionals and teachers.

Francine said when adding up the savings from local real estate agents, loan officers, title companies, home inspectors and other every day deals in Rutherford and Cleveland counties, the savings are way beyond what people can get from other national programs.

Requirements that must be met to receive the Hero Rewards are: be a hero, be registered on HomeForHeroes.com and work with a Homes for Heroes real estate agent, such as Francine).

Homes for Heroes, Inc. was established in Minneapolis, MN by current CEO Ruth Johnson and family members Kacy Mlenar, Helen Johnson and Mark Micek. They obtained the trademarks and served the first heroes.

For more information call Francine at 704-974-6460, email; Francineira@remax.net or visit homesforheroes.com/affiliate/francine-mira.com

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