Happy Thanksgiving, Wallingford! I hope everyone has a warm spot to spend the day, full of family, friends and food.
At times like this, when we get to enjoy exactly how lucky we are, I’m especially thankful to all the people out there working to help those who could use a little luck. Which is why I’ve always been a huge fan of FamilyWorks. I appreciate not just that they provide a food bank for people who have trouble putting food on the table, but provide a support network and life-skills resources for people “seeking a path to long-term resiliency”. For example, here’s a snippet of a story from one of their clients. It’s a long read, but please, it’s got a happy ending:
Like a lot of people, we were doing ok, making the rent, paying bills, etc…until we weren’t. It didn’t take much–someone got sick, missed a week of work, didn’t get paid as much. First, we couldn’t afford our electric bill and the lights were shut off. Then, we couldn’t afford our rent. Before we knew it, we were staying in a motel on Aurora. At the time, Caleb was 3 years old. We were able to afford the weekly cost of the motel room (about $300) but not much else.
One day, while walking down 45th street, we saw the signs for FamilyWorks. It said “free playgroups”. We were greeted by friendly faces and a happy toy-filled room for our son to play and meet other kids. It was so great to have a place where we could bring him to sing songs, play, make friends, and have a snack. Sometimes that snack was the only food he ate between breakfast and dinner.
It was also great to talk to the other parents. The staff helped us understand some of Caleb’s behaviors and come up with positive strategies to address them.
Right around Thanksgiving last year, things got a lot harder. We were late on payment to the motel and the owner kicked us out. We had nowhere to sleep and the weather had turned cold and rainy. We spent our nights riding the bus, trying to stay warm and keep Caleb out of the cold. A few nights, we had to sleep in an abandoned house with no phone and no food. We taught Caleb to stay quiet by pretending we were secret ninjas.
We came into FamilyWorks and met with the family advocate. We called several agencies and put our names on wait lists for shelters and transitional programs, including the family housing connection. At one point, the agency paid for 3 nights in a hotel for us, just so we wouldn’t be on the streets over Thanksgiving. We also got a hot meal at Nickerson St. Pub on Thanksgiving Day. Then I got paid again and we were able to pay for another week at the motel.
We continued to meet with the advocate almost every day. We wanted to rent an apartment, but we couldn’t save enough for first, last, and a deposit. Finally, after about 1,000 phone calls, we got connected to an agency that helped us with move-in costs. It was January 9th, just a few days before Caleb’s birthday. He had his own room with a bed and a place for his toys. We were sleeping on the floor, but we didn’t care! We finally had a home.
The staff at FamilyWorks continued to work with us after we moved in. They helped us find a futon on a Buy Nothing group and even convinced the person to deliver it to our house for free! And the family advocate helped us sign our son up for Head-start where he started earlier this month.
Now, we are doing well. I am working weekends doing the same job. Mike is working at a landscaping company. Caleb is thriving in his stable environment. We are so grateful for the help we got at FamilyWorks.
Straight up, that’s the work that FamilyWorks does here in Wallingford: helping people through tough times, so they can back on their feet and take care of themselves again.
I think it would be awesome if we, as a neighborhood, could rally around this local resource and support it. So today, Wallyhood is kicking off a campaign to raise $3,000 from the Wallingford community to support FamilyWorks in their mission.
Will you join me? I’m asking everyone who reads this to pool our resources help FamilyWorks out. If we can hit $3,000, we’ll get that amount matched, for a total of $6,000 going to FamilyWorks.
Now, I’m still working on the matches. So far, I have one volunteer: Barbara Gordon has offered to match $1,000 if we can hit our target (thanks, Barbara!). I’ll be working to line up the the rest of the match over the coming weeks, but I’ll guarantee it: if we hit that amount, it will be matched.
To sweeten the pot, several Wallingford businesses have offered to donate items towards a raffle: we’ll be drawing from the list of people who have donated for some great give-aways of meals, desserts, haircuts and more. More on that to come.
For now, though: may I ask you to join me in supporting FamilyWorks with however much you’re comfortable with? Click the link below to donate now. The drive will be going through Dec 31st, but let’s get off to a strong start:
Thank you, Wallingford!