The story of South Florida’s economy is more than statistics. Behind the well-known data on income disparity, housing affordability, and low average pay are the voices of people grappling with its adversities and those thriving from its opportunities. These stories are from people who are struggling to make ends meet, and the experiences of others enjoying prosperity. These are personal portraits of real people sharing the role money in their lives in South Florida.
Nicole Wester moved to South Florida from New York more than five years ago, partly for her health. But she’s had a hard time finding steady work with a rising paycheck. When she spoke with WLRN, she had lost her apartment and was staying at the shelter at Camillus House in Miami.
Alexis Martin was in his early 20s during what is referred to as the Special Period in Cuba. It was after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of its financial support of the Castro regime. Like thousands of others, he left Cuba -- and has his own harrowing story -- eventually making it to the United States to build a new life in South Florida.
Ron Klein is a lawyer who served as a Democrat in the Florida House and Senate. His two terms in the U.S. Congress representing parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties bridged the beginning and official end of the Great Recession.
Alvaro Martinez grew up around the medical profession. His father was a doctor, and Alvaro knew he was going to practice medicine. He didn’t know what type of medicine to focus on, but he knew he wanted his medical career to be different than his dad’s.
Carlos Caballero works as a server and bartender at an airport restaurant, supporting his financée and their three year old daughter.
Christine Kerber first moved to Miami 20 years ago for a job. She’s stayed and built her life and career, even as her career has evolved and she has gone back to school.
Derek Auguste had a tough time readjusting to life in South Florida after the military, and without a regular paycheck.
Jeremy Thompson started his legal career and family in South Florida, but wanted to find a less expensive place to live.
Vincent Kuzmicki returned to Miami after serving in the Persian Gulf War. He worked a union job in the convention industry for many years before retiring. He then took up driving for Uber and Lyft, turning it into a new career. It makes describing what Vincent does for a living a little tough.
Kathleen Crampton had been coming to Florida since she was a kid and her family came down to escape winters up north. Her family was successful in the media and news business, and she also had a successful business career. Her own career included top positions at large health insurance companies. She calls herself lucky who is now busy with volunteer work in Palm Beach County.
Sandra Smith was married with five kids and had served in the military in her native Guyana before moving to South Florida. She divorced her husband, and has worked a series of jobs as she has struggled to make ends meet. She last worked at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport as a contract worker and has been a vocal union activist.
Abdul and Sahar Samra came to South Florida from Syria almost 30 years ago. and still have ties to the country experiencing civil war. They have built their personal and professional lives here, raising four kids and have become grandparents.