Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Non-traditional Holidays for Homeless Families

It's Wednesday morning and soon I'll be on the road to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I woke up thinking about two 'families' that were in our office yesterday.

One young lady came in with a staff member. She had been treated to take-out before she went to stay at the Lighthouse Youth Crisis Shelter. Mom was struggling, decided to leave town to stay with someone else, but her daughter values her education and knows if she leaves now, she may never finish high school. She has made a hard choice to go to a shelter, rather than go the difficult to navigate route of changing schools in your final year or the 'easy' option of dropping out.

Another family came in after they lost everything they own to a fire earlier this week. You've never seen more humble people than those with absolutely nothing. It's a shock to the system to lose everything in a moment--all your possessions, your home, and what feels like your dignity. Unfortunately Red Cross can only provide a few days of assistance and then these families are on their own. The family yesterday could not afford home-owners insurance and are not sure where to go next.

These families will have a non-traditional Thanksgiving to say the least. As tragic as this is, there are many heartwarming stories in our office too. A steel company, a church and a Bengal player sponsored a combined 16 families so that they could have a feast in their new homes or the homes of the people they are staying with. And as always, we'll be picking up families at the shelters to treat them to a special lunch at Rockbottom Brewery. More than 100 will be in attendance, and Project Linus is providing blankets for all of the children. Another bright spot!

Please keep our families in your thoughts and prayers during the holiday season. You know how trying it can be, imagine not being able to give your kids the holiday they want or deserve.

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