WHO WE ARE
Hi! We are Michael and Donna Astarita (formerly Donna Rose). We got married on a beautiful spring day on April 11, 1985. We had our beautiful baby boy Kurt Michael on September 29, 1985. We had our beautiful daughter Caitlin Nicole on August 11, 1993. We are still married to this day.
Trust us, sometimes it wasn’t easy. But we persevered because through it all we still loved each other. Sometimes though we both felt like giving up…but we didn’t because we both had a vision, a dream of how we wanted to live our lives together. We both had the same desires and goals.
We always knew that there was something else that we were meant to do, that there was a different kind of life. We wanted freedom, security…we wanted the kind of life we were meant to have. We had a vision. We knew we had a purpose. We wanted to enjoy life, not struggle. We wanted to help others.
We tried many different opportunities over the years. None of them really paid off, but we didn’t give up.
Below is a list of many of the ‘opportunities’ that we tried just to give you an idea of how serious we were to change our lives, to give our children a better life. Keep in mind that we started this journey back in 1985 – things were different back then.
- Watkins (door to door!)
- Proccessing HUD refunds (all our letters came back)
- Making jewelry and cleaning mohair from home (tedious and not worth it)
- Winners Circle (investment, they do the work selling vacation packages, went out of business, lost all of our money)
- Make money using your fax machine (what a joke!)
- SMC (had to sell a lot to make it worth it, not online yet, pain in the #!%&)
- Herbalife (1996, traditional network marketing – stockpiling, etc…)
- ForMor (traditional network marketing, bother friends and family)
- Waste management for companies (didn’t know what we were doing)
- Cigarrest (putting out brochures in offices and businesses – actually made some money, little return on their investment – not worth their time)
- FHA Refunds (next to impossible!)
- Online business promoting Amazon (back in 2002, marketing blindly)
- Internet Treasure Chest (remember this? no real guidance, wanted more of our money for coaching)
- Online surveys (defintely wouldn’t make you rich)
We then took a breather from it all because nothing seemed to work for us. We still never stopped looking in the meantime. We were looking for ‘the right one’…
THE ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE
Michael is a good guy. He loved his family. He loved people. He just had a problem with alcohol and drugs.
He wasn’t a steady drinker. He was a binge drinker….
…but when he drank he was a different person. He could be mentally abusive. He could break things. He could be argumentive. He could rant and rave for hours.
It put a huge strain on the family. They loved him. They just tolerated it for all these years.
Sprinkle the alcohol and drug abuse throughout their story below.
Then one day (keep reading) the shit really hit the fan, and the windows, and the walls! (will explain later)
Below is our story, from the beginning to the present. A story of love, struggle, ups and downs, and ultimately a journey that takes us on to discover our true selves. A journey to the destination we knew we were meant to arrive at…A discovery of the people we knew we were meant to be…
Michael and Donna met while working at a department store for minimum wage. She was 24, he was 20. Donna didn’t like Michael very much – he just seemed grumpy. Donna was shy and quiet. But ultimately something drew them together and they fell in love.
They each felt like they had found their missing half…the other half that made them whole. They were like one. They couldn’t get enough of each other.
Donna got pregnant, but they didn’t care. They were in love. They were going to love their baby. They got married at the courthouse with just close family. They didn’t have money for a reception, or honeymoon. But it didn’t matter. They were in love and they were going to have their baby.
At the time Michael was a mason tender – seasonal work and if it rained you didn’t work, and guess what? You didn’t get paid.
THE HARD YEARS (FELT LIKE THE YO-YO YEARS)
They soon discovered that life was going to be a struggle. They had to move in with Donna’s parents. They had their first car repossessed.
Michael’s Mother and Father both passed away within a year of each other from cancer. Michael was drinking a lot and and doing some drugs. Donna had enough and kicked him out. Kurt was 2 at the time.
Michael straightened out and Donna took him back because she loved him. They belonged together.
They moved in with Donna’s sister Trudy to help her out. Donna’s sister and her husband Ross broke up and Ross moved out. Life became a combination of seasonal work, lay-offs, and temporary work.
They filed their first bankruptcy in 1988.
Michael, Donna, Kurt, her sister and her daughter Melanie moved back in with Donna’s parents.
After ten months, Michael, Donna, Kurt, Trudy and Melanie moved out again into their own place.
Michael and Trudy were experiencing some differences, so Trudy moved back in with her mother.
THE WORST TIME
Donna had found a good paying job by then, but the company went on strike.
They experienced their first eviction…They thought they would just have to live in their station wagon.
…but Donna’s Mom said that only Donna could come live with them. There wasn’t any room for Michael or their son Kurt (Caitlin wasn’t born yet). Donna’s Dad, four brothers and four nieces already lived there.
This was probably one of the hardest things they ever had to go through.
Michael and Kurt went to live with Michael’s brother Marty and sister-in-law Mary-Ann and their toddler Dustin.
Donna had to live apart for ten months from her husband that she loved and her little boy who meant the world to her. Kurt was only five years old. They were her life.
Donna’s strike was over and Michael got a job. They got their sh@#$t together and got their own place to live.
The next six years were of love and togetherness. They still didn’t have much – they were still basically living paycheck to paycheck, but they were happy because they had each other.
Donna found out after four years of trying that she was going to have a another baby. She was 34 and Michael was 30 by then. Caitlin was born in 1993.
Michael got a DUI in 1994. He lost his new job working at the same company as Donna.
They went through some financial struggles – still not being able to give their kids the things they wish they could – but they had plenty of love. They have a lot of good memories from those days.
MORE HARD YEARS
Michael was either on seasonal work, or laid off. He couldn’t get a break.
In December of 1996, Donna’s job of eight years filed bankruptcy and shut down.
Cable shut off. Phone turned off.
…so back with Donna’s parents they went. Due to the fact that Donna’s brother Larry was still living there with his four daughters and there wasn’t much room. Michael had to sleep in the basement next to the washer and dryer with the roaches (Mom was trying hard to get rid of them). They would fall down on him at night while he was sleeping. Donna and Caitlin slept in bed with her mother. Their son Kurt slept on a couch in a room with Donna’s other brother Glenn. And, oh yeah, I didn’t mention that there were two of her other brothers living there also.
Michael and Donna were good people. They just couldn’t seem to get a break. Why did this keep happening to them?
THE OTHER STRUGGLES
Michael found another ‘JOB’ (Just Over Broke) and so did Donna. Together they made enough to get an apartment. They had to! They couldn’t stand the living situation they were in – although they were grateful to have a place to stay – it was hard living with other people, even if they were family.
They had to file another bankruptcy in 2000. They got into debt with credit cards before the last time they had to move in with Donnas parents. They were just trying to survive. They had two kids to feed!
They were happy in their little apartment. They were together.
Another tenant had a puppy they wanted to get rid of. Kurt wanted the puppy. The apartment complex management said they had to get rid of the dog or move out. They loved their dog and took that responsibility on, so they kept her.
Donna prayed to GOD and put everything into his hands. She didn’t freak out or anything, just let GOD help them out of the situation they were in.
Donna posted a flyer in a drugstore that said, “Nice family of 4 with a dog looking for a house to rent for around $600″. They got a call. Someone had a house they could rent.
GOD answered their prayers.
LIFE FOR THE NEXT 15 YEARS
They settled in for a few years to a life of just getting by. They had happy moments, but yearned for something more.
Donna got a well paying job. Michael got downsized and laid off (imagine that!).
Still just getting by.
Michael contined looking for work. He continued getting laid-off.
Donna worked lots of overtime. A lot of times she was forced and had no choice. A lot of times she volunteered because they needed the money. She didn’t like working all of that overtime.
THEN IT FINALLY HAPPENED!
Donna was still on her search for something that could get them out of this life of control.
She found something that looked interesting – making money with Pinterest (don’t get it wrong, Pinterest is great)
Their son Kurt seemed to think it was just another one of ‘those things’ (if you know what they mean).
Donna, Michael and Kurt got into a disagreement (well, maybe an argument). Kurt said he would prove that there was something better.
He went online to do some research, when lo and behold, he came across something. He stumbled onto Instant Payday Network.
That led into them discovering Empower Network!
As soon as they saw the promotional video for Empower Network, they knew that this was what they had been looking for all of their lives. They didn’t hesitate. Michael, Donna and Kurt signed up right away.
There was just something that you couldn’t place your finger on. They saw the vision of Dave Wood. They felt it. This was September of 2012.
They attended their first event in April 2013. It was exciting! The energy was out of this world!
THEN TRAGEDY STRUCK
That first year they didn’t treat it like a business and weren’t getting the results they should have been getting.
They all knew they had some internal beliefs that were holding them back. They learned that being successful was an inside job.
Michael and Donna knew they had to go to the next event so they made plans to go to the regional in Washington DC. This was October 2013.
On October 15 on her 82nd birthday, 3 days before they were to go to the event, Donna’s Mom had a massive stroke – her whole left side was paralyzed. She couldn’t even have a sip of water.
Donna was devastated. Michael loved her like she was his Mom.
They decided to go to the event because it was only about an hour and a half away.
The event was great! There was so many inspiring stories. Stories of hardship, stories of journeys to success. They were ready to bang it out!
The business was put on hold. Donna spent a lot of time visiting her Mom in the nursing home. Her Mom was in and out of the hospital. She was fighting pneumonia, diabetes, and other health issues along with the stroke.
A month later, Michael discovered he had rectal cancer. He had a lot of pain and discomfort. He was suffering.
A month later, 3 days before Christmas, Donna’s Mom passed away.
On Christmas they just went through the motions, but their heart wasn’t in it.
Michael refused to seek traditional cancer treatments. He practiced alternative methods for about 5 months before he knew he had to seek medical attention.
The Doctor wouldn’t prescribe pain medication because he was afraid it would block him up. The tumor was a large mass. It was awful!
Michael started drinking and using marijuana just to help him deal with the pain and discomfort.
He started on 25 rounds of radiation. He then had surgery to remove the tumor. More pain and discomfort. Oxycodone, Oxycontin, and marijuana just to deal.
He had to wear an illeostomy bag for 5 months. Thank God he was able to have it reversed. More discomfort and pain medication and marijuana and alcohol.
The Doctor said there was no sign of cancer. It didn’t spread anywhere else. He told Michael to keep on doing what he was doing. The Doctor seemed a little amazed that it hadn’t spread anywhere else. It was a large massive tumor.
We believe with the faith of God and the alternative methods that Michael was doing had kept the cancer contained.
Pain medications, marijuana and alcohol still there.
So for 2 years after his cancer diagnosis he was unable to work. A lot of the time he couldn’t even leave the house. He was pretty much tied to the toilet a lot of the time, before and after surgery.
Another Company Shutdown?
They lost all of their focus on business and building their dreams. Donna’s Moms illness and death, Michael’s cancer – treatments and surgery’s – put everything on the back-burner.
Were they just making excuses?
The next year and a half consisted of heartbreak, sadness, pain and suffering. A lot of the time Michael was unable to even sit at his computer because he was in so much discomfort.
Then in April of 2015 the company that Donna worked at for 11 years announced that they were shutting down the Baltimore plant. The last day of work was August 31, 2015. There was only 63 union employees left at that time. The company slowly laid more and more people off. Imagine that!
Donna had mixed emotions about the plant closure – Sad for her fellow employees, feelings of excitement and freedom for her!
They knew then that they had to do what they needed to do.
There was no Plan B. Enough was enough.
When The Shit Hit The Fan, The Windows, The Curtains, The Ceilings And The Walls
In the meantime Michael was spiraling further and further down that path of alcohol and drug addiction.
It was hard for the family to even be around him. He was becoming somebody else.
He admits now that the addiction was a crutch.
Donna wasn’t even sure anymore if she could do this business with him. But they had a dream didn’t they?
So on August 14, 2015 Donna came home from work. Michael wasn’t home.
Donna was in the kitchen at the sink cleaning up when he came home. He came into the kitchen and pushed her. He then trapped her in the kitchen talking all crazy. He was becoming physically violent – something he never did before.
Donna managed to get out of the house and began calling the police. He followed her and tried to get her keys away and and was throwing her around like a rag doll. This was the first time ever Donna was really afraid of him.
The police came and Michael wouldn’t come out of the house. They then saw him in the house with a rifle. In Michaels mind he was just protecting his house. He was drunk out of his mind, smoked marijuana and took oxycontin remember?
This went on for hours. The house was surrounded by a swat team. They were all over the neighborhood.
They decided to get him out by shooting tear gas and pepper spray bombs into the house through the windows.
Of course he came out and they arrested him.
Michael doesn’t even remember any of it until he realized the police were trying to get him to come out of the house. He blacked out and didn’t even know what was going on. Why were the police after him?
The house was damaged pretty badly. Glass and plaster and window blind pieces were everywhere. The whole house had to be treated like a house that had fire damage. The pepper spray fumes would burn your eyes and throat and skin.
The End And The New Beginning
Michaels time in jail was a wake up call. He was miserable and he realized that there had to be a serious life change.
Donna was going to leave him in jail, but she couldn’t do that to him. He suffered from a severe irritable bowel now since the cancer. He leaked from his rectal area.
Donna got him out on bail. She was told to file a restraining order but she knew that this wasn’t him that was physically abusive. This was a man who went through low self-esteem, depression and physical illness.
They started on a road to healing. They began seeing a counselor.
Their love is still strong!
They put their focus back onto Empower Network and becoming the people they were meant to be.
What Empower Network Means
- Empower Network means that they can achieve their dreams and goals and help others achieve their dreams and goals.
- Empower Network means that they can become the people they were meant to be and help others be who they were meant to be.
- Empower Networks blogging platform means that they can share what they are passionate about and help others share what they are passionate about.
Their dream was still alive.
Look out world, here they come!
We are following the leaders and you can run with us because we are going to make it to the top, with or without you!
Click on the link below, put in your best email, and watch the FREE video now:
Sign up to receive updates!
If creating the lifestyle you deserve means becoming the best person you can be, having the resources for a healthier body and mind, living where you choose to live, and just enjoying life with your loved ones...
We would love for you to enter your best email now!
GET FREE TIPS TO CREATE A BUSINESS & LIFE YOU LOVE