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Stranded Family Just Wants to Come Home to Darien

DARIEN, Conn. – Denise El-Tayyeb thought she landed her dream job when she moved from Darien to Michigan this summer to work for HGTV host Cari Cucksey. However, after taking two substantial pay cuts in five months and then losing her job, El-Tayyeb and her family find themselves stranded in Michigan, trying to figure out a way to get back to Darien to friends and family.

“It’s quite a mess,” said El-Tayyeb, who is currently staying home with the couple's three boys while her husband travels for work. “This process is so difficult, given the sudden loss of income and coupled with the fact that my husband is only able to return to his family in Michigan once every four or five weeks.”

El-Tayyeb paired up with Cucksey after working with her on an estate sale in New York last spring. Her show, "Cash & Cari," was just completing season two when El-Tayyeb was offered a key role. A salary was agreed upon, contracts were signed, and soon the family was renting out their house in Darien and moving to Michigan to start a new life.

But that life soon was turned upside down. Within 12 weeks, El-Tayyeb was told she would need to take two temporary pay cuts until season three could start taping. The cuts ended up amounting to about 80 percent of her initial salary. Finally, days before season three was to start filming, she was notified via email that her services were no longer required.

The El-Tayyebs had charged their moving expenses to a credit card and were not reimbursed as they were told they would be. Not making enough to pay full rent, going without health insurance and not being able to cover living expenses has taken its toll on the entire family.

With no family or friends in Michigan, they just want to come home so Denise can get back to work as a real estate broker. They were hoping that the family could return during Christmas break, but now that seems unlikely.

“We need to get back on our feet and regroup. The children need to be back with friends and family.”

The couple's three boys are doing their part to try to raise money to return the family to Connecticut. They have started their own small business, Button It Up Boys , selling interchangeable magnet charms and necklaces. Cliff Benham of Chunky Pam’s Sweet Shoppe in Darien has started selling the charms to help the family.

“We are teaching the boys that even when you are in a bad situation, you have to roll up your sleeves and figure a way out," El-Tayyeb said. "All we can do right now is love each other and try to rebuild. We hope nobody else has to go through this.”

Do you know of anyone in need of help this holiday season? Tell us in the comments below.

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