When an non-food emergency need arises for one of the families we sponsor, we do our best to jump in and solve the problem. So when we heard that a disabled grandfather and his grandson in Pembroke, Illinois were sleeping in a run down house that had no beds, or even mattresses, no working refrigerator, and a badly leaking roof, we reached out to our donors for help. We happily have been able to provide new beds, mattresses, blankets, sheets, towels, and a refrigerator. And we’re working on getting the roof, windows, and rotted deck replaced.
Another Pembroke family we sponsor with monthly groceries had the pipe that carried propane (which they use for heating and cooking) from an outdoor tank into their home dug up and stolen! The family, a mom with three children, suddenly had no heat to stay warm or fuel to cook with. We purchased and had a new pipe installed, and also bought the family a badly needed new front door, and a fan for an asthmatic daughter.
When Covid first hit, many of the already struggling moms and dads in our sponsored communities found themselves suddenly out of work, and desperate for help. We responded by doubling up sponsors for most families in our program who received grocery gift cards, so each family received double the funds on their gift card every month. A $35 gift card became a $70 gift card, and for local Rivertowns (NY) families, one donor per family turned into three or four. Now, with inflation causing food costs to increase, it makes sense to us to continue that protocol indefinitely, even as many of our recipeint families have returned to work.
In addition to Hastings on Hudson and Dobbs Ferry, NY (our local community), the places “doubled up” are:
- Boston, MA
- Braddock, PA
- Brookside, AL
- Burton, MI
- Flint, MI
- Jenkins, KY
- Kermit, W.VA
- Lake Providence, LA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Mamaroneck, NY
- Ossining, NY
- Pembroke, IL
- San Elizario, TX
- Staten Island, NY
- Waco, TX
- Whitney, NV
- Worcester, MA
- Yonkers, NY
We continue to hear from our on the ground community partners about families that don’t have a computer at home… causing their kids to fall behind as they struggle to complete school assignments. To help solve that problem, we’re working with The Loyalty Foundation, a not-for-profit that donates refurbished Chromebook computers to impoverished students, with the goal of providing them with more equal access to education. So far this fall 95 low income students in three of the communities we serve (NYC, Waco, Texas, and San Elizario, Texas) have received a computer. That’s on top of the 112 students who received one last year (in Flint, Michigan… Jenkins, Kentucky… Yonkers, New York and NYC).
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.