By Joseph M. Costa, Hillsides President and CEO
Recently I met with a group of staff who provide crisis services to children and families who are at risk of being separated. They described a household of three generations that was dependent upon the oldest female, who suffers from chronic mental illness. Their saga is one of dependence on public funds to maintain lodging and basic services. The staff shared with me that the funding for the family’s lodging was in jeopardy. The loss of their current temporary lodging would threaten the permanent affordable housing that the family has been awaiting.
The situation was urgent; the possibility of this family returning to the street and making due in their broken-down car was hard to contemplate. After a number of phone calls and identification of some emergency funds, the crisis was temporarily averted. However, as Thanksgiving approaches, there continues to be some uncertainty as to the long-term prospects of affordable lodging for the family.
In reviewing the case, it was abundantly clear that the family’s situation was precarious, and that the slightest misstep could result in catastrophe. Situations like these are heartbreaking and stressful for clients and staff alike as we race against deadlines and what seems like arbitrary protocols to assure this family secure housing and appropriate care.
The family’s needs and challenges, especially at this time of year, is a reminder of how dependent we are on one another. Things we may take for granted seem like impossible luxuries for others. The availability of funds to address a housing emergency, vouchers for food and other necessities, and the attention of caring individuals is what will make this Thanksgiving special for this family. For those of us who support this family during the holiday, our ability to assist them will also affect our family gatherings this Thursday, reminding us of what Thanksgiving is all about.
This is the story of just one family we serve but there are many more families like this one, living on a precipice, challenged by poverty, chronic illness, and little opportunity. Although the situation of these families is more poignant during the holidays, the struggles they experience know no calendar; they are constant until something breaks in their favor. Until affordable housing is secured, illness is treated, employment attained, and the next generation educated, the cycle of challenges maintains a powerful hold.
Each year at this time, we gather together with our own families, grateful for the abundance we have. Yet, the needs of the children, youth and families we serve reminds us of the opportunity we have to make a difference and help families who are vulnerable. Please consider what you might be able to do to help those we serve. You can help fulfill holiday wishes of children and provide families with holiday meals by making a gift to our holiday drive. To contribute, please visit https://hillsides.wedid.it/campaigns/5780.
Thank you for all you do for those we serve. Without your generous support, it would not be possible to respond to their needs. With your help, this holiday season will be memorable and restore a sense of hope for the new year.
Know that on this Thanksgiving, as we gather and give thanks, that we are most thankful for the faithful support we receive from our community of benefactors. Happy Thanksgiving!