This holiday season, at Family Tree, our gratitude and thankfulness for all that we have and the hope of what is yet to come is especially profound.  With the pandemic’s deep impact on families’ lives we have seen tragedy, hopelessness and profound loss over the last nine months.  And yet, some glimmers of hope, generosity, kindness, compassion and care emerge.  I’ve started referring to them as the “Silver linings of COVID”.  Your generosity, care, concern and commitment in supporting our work is the greatest “silver lining” we have experienced.  We know we are not alone as we support families during this tragic time just when they need us the most.  Here is a story of just that; resilience in the face of despair, hope in the face of deep tragedy and new beginnings when all seems lost. 

Meet Joe.  Joe is a loving Dad, supportive husband and hard working Truck Driver.  Over the last years he has provided well for his family of young twins and wife.  They had all that they needed and most of what they wanted leading up to last January when news that his wife, Julie, who was in remission, had cancer once again.  As you can imagine, this type of news would be a hardship and struggle for any family but coupled with the pandemic it became a spiral out of control for Joe and his family.   

Joe’s young children were struggling to cope with the fact that their momma was sick again.  Julie was struggling wrapping her mind around her cancer recurrence and all that that would mean to her and her family.  As her medical appointments progressed and her condition worsened they received the news that her diagnosis was terminal.  This devastated their family. 

Joe ended up leaving his job to care for Julie and the twins as they have no close relatives in the area for support.  Once he stopped working it wasn’t very long before they found themselves homeless and looking for a place to live. Thankfully, Joe called Family Tree looking for any kind of support he could find for his young family.  One of our Family Support Specialists started meeting with Joe and the family, through phone, text and video calls and began to help him sort out next steps and how to access services he never dreamed of all the while parenting his young children, supporting them in their learning, caring for Julie and making meals in the small kitchenette. 

Our Family Support Specialist assisted Joe in getting a room at one of the local motels that offered monthly rates.  A family of four, in one room, with a small kitchenette and a lot of stress, emotion and heartache all squeezed into one small spot.  It was a tinderbox just waiting to erupt.  Family Tree provided weekly meal support, food, personal care supplies and most of all, a warm voice, who could listen and support Joe while he traversed this tragic time. 

As Julie’s condition worsened, Family Tree assisted Joe in helping set up hospice services for Julie and his family.  If this wasn’t enough, just thinking about the family’s financial situation after Julie’s death created more stress as their financial support would end once this occurred.  It definitely was a dark day when Joe and his Family Support Specialist discussed this with tears and dread. 

Family Tree’s staff reached out to a local community partner, Community Services Consortium, inquiring if there was any housing assistance available to Joe and his family.  Through collaboration and connection, Joe started working with a housing specialist in their program to see what might be available for his family beyond a small motel room. Both agencies and staff worked hard to support Joe, listening to what his needs were and thinking creatively about what might be possible. Thanks to additional resources due to the pandemic there were programs available.  A “#SilverliningofCOVID.”

Thanks to the CSC supportive housing assistance program, Joe called his Family Tree staff person with the joyful news that he and his family would be moving into a three bedroom duplex! It seemed like a miracle, they would have a home, a place to live and share time with Julie as she began her decline. A place to call their own to hold their happiness and their grief. A place to feel grounded, safe and connected once again as a family.  Joe can barely express what this means to him.  He knows that the road ahead will have trials, and he will continue to need support for himself and his children as they lose their wife and mother.  He knows that he will have the support of his Family Tree Family Support Specialist to guide him through.  He will not be alone.

All of this is thanks to the support that you offer Family Tree when you make a financial gift to our organization.  Because of your generosity, a father is able to share the last days with his wife and their children and prepare for what will come after in a warm home. 

Joe’s family’s story isn’t over yet.  I don’t know how it will end. But I do know that he will not write it on his own.  He will have the support from Family Tree and other community partners to guide him as he makes his way.  All because of the financial support you offer to Family Tree.

Thank you for your generosity from the bottom of Joe’s heart and ours.  We could not do this work without you.  Any gift you can offer this year will make a difference to families in our communities. Please take a look below to see what different donation sizes offer for our families, and follow this link to make your life-changing contribution: Year-End Giving

As we look forward to 2021 and more “Silver linings of COVID” we await with hope and anticipation.

Best Wishes for a Joyful Holiday Season,

Renee Smith

Year-End Giving

$50.00~ this gift will provide one hot meal to a family of four.

$100.00 This gift will support a child in one respite care class where they can play with their friends and connect with their teacher.

$250  This gift will provide a home visit with supplies and support to a family in need of connection and support

$500 This gift will provide a full month of once a week respite classes for a child and a rest from caregiving for their parents.

$1,200 This gift will provide home visits, meals and family support for 3 months to a family in need of a hand up during these challenging times.

All of these gifts and more would be a #silvierliningsofCOVID