As much as we are known for our residential treatment services, over the last two decades Hillsides has developed a considerable capacity as a provider of community-based programs. We reach out to fragile and vulnerable children and their families who are significantly at risk because of poverty, traumatic experiences, and other challenges.
Recently the National Center on Family Homelessness issued a report showing that one out of every 30 children in the country experienced homelessness in 2013, an increase of 8%. The causes are many: poverty, lack of affordable housing, the lingering effects of the Great Recession, racial disparity, challenges unique to single parents, and traumatic experiences such as domestic violence. All these factors place many families teetering on the edge of homelessness and stressed beyond their ability to cope with even simple everyday tasks.
The holidays introduce yet other stressors as families struggle to meet the expectations created by a commercialized society that emphasizes material possessions as the ideal expression of familial care. For many of the families we serve, simple things like satisfying a request for a specific toy requires a balancing of absolute priorities such as food and rent against the expectation of a child to receive a toy for Christmas. For most of us, the issue is not purchasing a toy, but rather how many to buy. However, for these families, the issue is having the resources to do anything at all.
All of our efforts with these families are focused on preventing them from becoming homeless. Aside from parenting support services and mental health counseling, it is not unusual for us to assist families with rent payments, food, and clothing on a temporary basis until their situation can improve. Providing resources to help with gift giving and other items to make the season memorable offers a great relief to those struggling during the holidays. What we are able to do for them is greatly appreciated and received as an assurance that they count on us to get them through a challenging period. However, we would be unable to provide such outreach without the generous support of our donor community.
This year, the Galvan family* is typical of those in need. Single mother Mary and her three daughters lost their apartment last year and were homeless for three months. There is not enough money for basics, even for sturdy shoes, which the two older girls need desperately for their 2.5 mile walk home from school. The youngest daughter, Alexandra, who suffers from anxiety and nightmares, dreams of playing with a Barbie, but has to make do playing with a “pretend” Barbie – a stuffed bird from her classroom.
We ask you to consider adopting one such family as we support them during this holiday season. This year, we hope to meet the needs of 80 families. To adopt a family, please contact Laura Kelso, Hillsides community resources director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-254-2274, ext. 1251.
Anything and everything you do will help us keep one less child and family from falling into the abyss of homelessness and restore some sense of happiness to their lives during the holidays. Thank you!
*Name and some details changed to protect the privacy of the family.