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Melinda Canter: Life Changes⎯Overnight

Steven and Melinda Canter had created a good life for themselves in Michigan. Steven had a successful construction company that he built from scratch. They filled their home with the love and laughter of children: first came Brijna, followed by three boys.

Then, about 10 years into building his business, Steven got injured on the job; his lungs got contaminated by toxic paint. As a result, he was in and out of the hospital, and suffered from depression because of the toll the injury was taking on his body, his business and his family. Melinda did her best to keep the family afloat financially. It was during this time that she let their life insurance policies lapse, thinking they could save money for awhile and re-apply later. That would turn out to be a decision she’d regret.

After Steven’s company went bankrupt, the Canters sold their house and moved to Florida where Steven could better recuperate and the family could have a fresh start. Before they even got settled, however, tragedy struck. Brijna’s 10-year-old brother, Brandon, went to wake his father one morning only to find that he had died during the night. He was only 44 years old.

The family was evicted three times and eventually had to split up and live with various family friends.

Melinda struggled to keep the family on track after Steven’s death, working 80 hours a week—often into the wee hours of the morning. But it was not enough. The family was evicted three times and eventually had to split up and live with various family friends. “It was a blessing to have people help us the way they did, but it would have been a bigger blessing to have life insurance,” says Brijna.

After high school, Brijna felt she needed to stay home to help care for her three young brothers, as her mother was working full time. She became a second mom to them.

Now that the boys are older, Brijna, with the help of scholarships, is able to attend Seminole Community College and is working toward her degree. But the trauma of her father’s death and the impact it had on her family lingers. “I can only imagine how different life would be if my parents hadn’t cancelled the life insurance policy—not only emotionally, but physically and financially as well,” she says.

You can help students like Brijna make their dream of a college education come true by donating to the nonprofit Life Lessons Scholarship fund. Donate here.

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