One of the remarkable things we witness daily at Family Promise Metrowest is the incredible strength and optimism of our families. Despite the challenges they are facing, we are continually humbled by their ability to press forward into a future that is filled with opportunity. That said, we never would have imagined the resilience and fortitude that we are seeing now in our families in the face of this life-altering pandemic.
At the outset of this crisis, our case managers reached out to all 25 families we are currently serving to check on their welfare and find out about needs that were arising. Most of their concerns were familiar to all of us: Can I still go to work safely? How will I get groceries? What about my kids’ education? What will happen if any of us get sick? But some were more specific to our families: Will I be able to pay April rent? Will my food stamps last the month? Will we find an apartment during this crisis?
Our families have been honest about their challenges, and so we’ve been able to help them with support that's targeted to their specific needs. None of them have sought more than what is essential to stay afloat. And we’ve also been humbled by some of their unexpected responses: We don't need a subsidy right now. Save that gift card for someone who needs it more. We’re doing just fine. Everything will be okay.
What we know is that our families have been through a lot. Many of them have experienced hardships and upheaval in their lives that we can hardly fathom. For them, this pandemic is yet another mountain to tackle, and they’ve already learned that with hard work and a positive attitude, mountains are manageable and the view from the summit puts the things that matter in perspective. This is a lesson we can all do well to heed.
We asked our families last week to send us pictures of things that give them hope during this dark time, and we’ve put together an Album of Hopeto share them with you. As one mother wrote when sending us her photo, “My children always give me HOPE every day to keep being the best woman and mom that I can be. To continue to provide the best life I can for them. We will all get through this.”
There isn’t a staff member at FPM that doesn’t talk about what our families have taught us—as an organization, and as individuals. The grace with which they hold up under their trials gives us a mirror to hold up against our own struggles. For that, we are continually grateful.
Heroes for Hope: A Campaign Thank-You
Last week, we successfully concluded the Campaign for Hope with the support of our compassionate, caring community. Today we want to share some of the thoughtful acts of generosity we experienced, highlighting the diversity of donors that came together in love and caring that they hold in common for our families.
To begin, we want to thank our registered walkers. While we were all so disappointed by the cancellation of the April 5th walk, rather than fade away, this incredible group of participants went on to raise an additional $18,000 in pledges after the walk was cancelled. Their momentum helped propel the entire campaign toward its successful finish line.
Our network congregations also rose to the challenge, recognizing the need for emergency funds when COVID-19 forced us to close our shelter and move families to the hotel. Through offerings, outreach, virtual fairs, gift cards, and their own budgets, they provided over $13,000 of much-needed support, for which we are so thankful.
Another incredibly moving group of donors were those who chose to make donations in honor of someone else. In particular, we received numerous donations in memory of Roy Salvi, the husband of Carol Salvi, our coordinator for Christ the King in Holliston. With 37 donors sending a total of $1,941, we were able to pay for an entire month in the hotel for one of our families in memory of Roy.
Many of the other honorary donations reminded us that this crisis is also offering us a chance for reflection and gratitude. Some of the other dedications we received were in honor of...
...all who once looked out for me when I was young.
...all the medical staff, EMTs, and those working with COVID-19 patients.
...justice and kindness.
...all the families.
On a final note, we’d like to introduce Jack House, a repeat donor and volunteer for Family Promise Metrowest. We’ve always been able to count on Jack to set up and break down the rooms at Wellesley Village Church when they host our families. He has contributed to the walk and our holiday appeal, purchased Valentine’s Day gifts for the children, and most recently mailed us $61 he raised for our Campaign for Hope.
What’s important to know is that Jack is 7 years old.
Today I learned a bit more about him. This past February he and his mom were in town when they noticed a woman frantically searching for her car keys. After helping her locate them, the woman was so grateful she gave Jack $50 for his kindness…which Jack then used to buy toys for the children at Family Promise. We thank Jack and his parents for their generosity and grace, and for showing us that even a 7-year-old can bring hope for a better future for all.
A Special Thanks: In addition to the funding raised through the Campaign for Hope, we’d also like to thank the following community partners for providing emergency grants to help us meet the current and evolving needs of the families across all our programs: Foundation for MetroWest, MetroWest Health Foundation, The Parmenter Foundation, and The Sudbury Foundation. Thank you all for rising so quickly to meet this challenge and offer support to organizations like ours throughout the community.
A Look Inside the "New Normal" at Family Promise
As anyone who has come to visit our office in person surely knows, we are a busy bunch. Our work, by nature, involves intense collaboration and communication, since solutions to challenges come from every corner of our organization and network. On top of that, we are an intensely connected and sociable group of people—we thrive on interaction, both professional and personal.
So this shut down of our physical space hit us extra hard. No more popping into each others’ offices for quick questions, no more visitors to break up the work day, no more group lunches to check in, no more comforting, communal clicking of our keyboards. It’s been a bizarre loss, experienced by so many across the work world.
But “Promise” is our middle name, and nothing will keep us from upholding that commitment—to our families, our volunteers, and our whole wider network of support. So we’ve pivoted, like the rest of world, and our now-remote work is moving forward with more urgency than ever.
What do our days look like now? Our case managers Eliz and Stephanie have been our front line, connecting daily with families to ensure their safety and get them the resources they need to continue to thrive. Our van drivers Sharon, Sam, and Dan have been making deliveries to our families sheltered in the hotel and keeping the Day Center in top shape. Our volunteer and congregational support team, Kathy and Paula, have kept the channels of communication open with our community, making sure they know what’s happening and how to help. Tam and Melissa, our administrative and financial gurus, have kept our office gears turning, alternating shifts in the Day Center to keep up with our mail and books. Our leadership team, Sue, Amanda, and Carole, have been guiding the organization through these shifting priorities, supporting the staff and working hard to access every resource we can to help our families through this crisis. For a closer look at how we're working now, take a look at our Remote Staff Photo Album!
Our team was looking forward to an upcoming retreat with the Hollister Institute—a day set aside to build connection and strengthen commitment. This, of course, had to be cancelled. But the team from Hollister, Karla and Tracey, offered us a consolation: a free remote seminar to bring us together to talk about self-care and communication, and how we can all weather the challenges and stress together. Karla shared a quote from author Brené Brown with us: “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Our “staff picture” taken at the end of this conversation tells the rest of that story: smiles, strength, and renewed focus. And now, back to work!