As you heard last week from Greg, the holidays are one of those time where we see the stressors that families face – differently and more poignantly.
I recently met a mother of two young children who had left another state in order to escape from domestic violence. She had only been in Rhode Island for about 5 days and was staying with family while she began to rebuild a life for herself and her kids that was free of violence. While domestic violence impacts people of all income classes – it can be more powerful for those who make less money because it all too often can trap them in dangerous situations. And women of color are at even higher risk. Not because men of color are more violent, but because these mothers face a constellation of challenges including poverty, lack of access to resources and systemic racism.
Not only did she need to support her kids through this process, she needed to do it very quickly. And since she was living in a warmer climate, her kids only had things like shorts and flip flops. Within these first few days, she enrolled her older son in first grade and needed support for her younger 4 year old. So she walked into one of our centers and explained the situation. Our supervisor heard all the details and brought her to my office to see what else we could do. From the moment I met her, I could see that she is a strong and resilient woman who had just made one of the most challenging decisions a mother could. She left a frightening and dangerous situation without knowing the details of what she would do next. And while she is able to stay with family, she is the type of person who was not going to let this change who she was. I was impressed by her courage and strength.
My next step was easy – so to speak – because of everything that you all do. I contacted our development department and that day I picked up coats, hats, boots, jeans, shirts, and pajamas. So when this mother came in the next day, we had a school placement for her youngest son, warm clothes for the boys, gifts cards for emergency needs and a plan to sponsor the family through our Holiday Drive.
This gives meaning to the idea of making a difference, one child and one family at a time.
I am deeply grateful for the staff of Children’s Friend and the community of supporters that enable us to do the work that we do every day.
To me….this is what “holiday spirit” is really all about.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season…