With so many moms and dads in the communities we serve suddenly out of work and struggling to put food on the table, Family-to-Family has moved quickly since March to expand our reach to meet the growing need.
Our generous donors have made that possible. In the last four months we’ve been able to add hundreds of newly struggling families to our hunger relief sponsorship program in Flint, MI; Burton, MI; Kermit, W.VA; Pembroke, IL; Worcester, MA; Montrose, AR; Brooklyn, NY; Ossining, NY; Whitney, NV; Brookside, AL; and Orlando, FL. In our hometown of Hastings on Hudson, NY we’ve provided weekly grocery gift cards for every child who had been receiving free/reduced lunch at school since the school year was cut short, have kept the local food pantry fully stocked and paid for Meals on Wheels for local seniors. Since the need is greater, in ten of the communities we serve we’ve doubled the amount of food each larger family receives, and we’re working towards expanding that effort to cover all our sponsored families who receive grocery gift cards. Sadly, with no end in sight for either the virus or the economic catastrophe it has unleashed, we anticipate the need for our program will continue to grow.
Under-served communities have born the brunt of the Covid-19 crisis, and not just with higher rates of illness. Fewer low-income students have access to the computers that are crucial for virtual learning, putting them at a significant educational disadvantage. So when we were contacted by The Loyalty Foundation, a not-for-profit that provides technology to impoverished students in order to provide more equal access to education for all, we were eager to link them up with the kids and teens in the communities we serve. In the last few months The Loyalty Foundation has provided 112 students in FtoF communities (Flint, Michigan; Jenkins, Kentucky; Yonkers, New York and New York City) with refurbished Chromebook laptops!
Three years after launching our Refugee Family and Holocaust Survivor sponsorship programs in the New York area, Family-to-Family has expanded both programs to California. Working with Seniors At Home (part of Jewish Family and Children’s Services) in San Francisco, and Human Rights First in Los Angeles, we’ve begun providing monthly grocery gift cards to impoverished refugees and Holocaust survivors in both cities. We’re in the initial stage of expanding our Sponsor A Family program to L.A. as well.
44,000 and counting…
Thanks to donations from Eileen Fisher Renew, to date we’ve found homes for more than 44,000 gently used Renew women’s clothing items (by designer Eileen Fisher) – passing them along to low income women struggling to rebuild their lives. The clothing, which includes both casual and professional items perfect for job interviews, has gone to women in need at 20 poverty outreach organizations, including Westhab, Inc. in Yonkers, N.Y., The Henry Street Settlement House in New York, N.Y., The Bronx VA Women Veterans Clinic in New York, N.Y., Vet2Vet in Buffalo, N.Y., Family Justice Center in New York, N.Y., People to People in Nanuet, N.Y. and Integrity House in Newark, N.J.
What started in 2017 as a small pilot sponsorship program to provide monthly groceries to a handful of elderly and impoverished U.S. Holocaust survivors has grown steadily. Today, over 100 survivors are sponsored, with the potential for many more. That’s because an estimated one-third of the approximately 67,000 Holocaust survivors living here in the U.S. live in profound poverty. F-to-F’s one on one sponsorship program links each participating donor with one senior in need, and for either a $55 or a $27.50 monthly donation (for a shared sponsorship), will provide that senior with a monthly gift card to a local grocery store of their choice. Learn more or sign up here.
Launched early last year, our Sponsor A Veteran program has reaped some immediate and heartwarming benefits for the sponsored vets.
In addition to providing each vet with more than a week’s worth of groceries every month, many veterans have received birthday gifts, shoes, shirts and pants, personal hygiene products, books and more from their sponsors.
Our contact at Westhab Inc.’s veterans housing facility in Yonkers, New York wrote about one sponsor’s gift: “I just delivered the sweatshirt to Edward S. HE LOVED IT. It was the perfect size and warmth for the weather. It’s like they knew what he liked, AND it was red for the Boston Red Sox! He sends his thanks and appreciation to his sponsor. He is wearing it now. 🙂”
When we heard that one of the vets we sponsor had no mattress in her apartment, we reached out to our donor community and were able to provide her with a mattress and new bedding. Last summer two disabled vets, one in a wheelchair, were badly in need of air conditioners, which we were able to provide through the generosity of our donors. Several vets have needed work clothes for job interviews…. another need we were able to meet, providing gift cards so they could go shopping.
Donors have also sent designated funds for our “Veterans Adopt the House” program, so we’ve been able to provide a hot take-out meal for every monthly house meeting at the Westhab facility since we launched!
To date, 42 veterans in the suburban New York area have been sponsored. These are vets living at or below the federal poverty line, who were recommended by one of three veterans services organizations: Family Services of Westchester in White Plains, N.Y.; Mental Health America of Dutchess County in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; and Westhab Inc. in Yonkers, N.Y.
Learn more about how to sponsor a struggling veteran here.
In an expansion of our regular Sponsor A Family program, Family-to-Family has linked up 90 refugee families who are recent arrivals to the U.S. with monthly sponsors. The program, launched in 2017, is an effort to help refugee families that are already in the U.S. but can’t yet support themselves. Each sponsored family is provided with a monthly grocery gift card enabling them to purchase basic grocery staples at a grocery store in their neighborhood. Recommended to our program by several national refugee resettlement agencies located in the New York City and upstate New York area, these families – fleeing violence, war and persecution – have emigrated from more than 20 countries – including Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Eritrea, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Libya, Mexico, Peru, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkmenistan, Somalia, and Ukraine. Sponsors provide a monthly donation to Family-to-Family which allow us to purchase the grocery gift cards, and can also send “their” family other basic essentials through the mail. Our goal is to help these individuals and families, who have already endured so much, feel welcome and secure in their new country. Learn more here.
Visa employees in San Francisco came together in late August and assembled an impressive 88 Family-to-Family Birthdays in a Box (in this case bags) for 88 children in need. The boxes, each filled with everything needed for one child to have a birthday party (cake, icing, decorations, a gift, etc.), were delivered to the poverty outreach organization Hamilton Families, also in San Francisco, where they’ll be given to low income children in their transitional housing and shelter programs.
As we did during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Family-to-Family launched a Sponsor A Family program for victims of Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria. We linked with several on-the-ground organizations that help families in need; in Houston: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, Communities in Schools, and Firestarter; in Florida: The Boys & Girls Club of Collier County and Jesus Loves You Outreach Ministries; and in Puerto Rico: the Jewish Community Center of Puerto Rico. These organizations continue to refer families that lost basic household items in the hurricanes to our program, and we’re linking those families with donor families. Donors are shopping and sending “their” Harvey or Irma family many of the items they lost in the flooding… things like bedding, towels, kitchen items and more. Donors are donating funds so household items can be purchased locally for Hurricane Maria victims. Click here to read a article about our hurricane sponsorship program in the Westchester County Business Journal. Or click here to learn more about joining as a sponsor.