We received this letter from Kay Lowe, Area Clinical Manager at the Department of Children and Families Framingham Area Office
“I wanted to take some time to write to thank you at First Parish of Sudbury for your support through the holidays. The holidays are said to be “the most wonderful time of the year” but for many of the children and families supported by our agency, they can often be far from that. Many of the families that we work with are challenged by a myriad of social problems which can include domestic violence, homelessness, mental health, substance abuse and poverty. For a number of families, they struggle to make the holidays “special” for their children, and as a result they face further financial hardship, experience stress and miss out on moments that many of us more fortunate take for granted.
A social worker recently shared a story with me that upon delivering a Thanksgiving basket to a family in need, the Mother broke down in tears. Thanksgiving also fell on her son’s 6th birthday and through the generosity of our local community, she would now be able to buy her son a birthday cake to celebrate.
Another worker talked about a family who fled to a shelter to escape significant domestic violence. This Mother of two young children was overwhelmed with her situation, and meeting her families’ basic needs. She also longed to make the holidays “magical for her son and daughter. Her change in living situation, and being the sole caretaker for her children, meant that this Mother could no longer work as many hours. Her safety and that of her children was her sole priority and through the generosity of our donors she was able to “trim” and put presents under the tree. She was also provided with warm winter clothing and household essentials.
As some of you may already be aware, children enter our custody due to unsafe situations, and may be placed in foster care. This placement is often with family members who become licensed. For many children who have witnessed trauma, the impact of a home removal can be mitigated through placement with those with who they are familiar.
I would like to share a final story from a grandmother who recently began fostering her two year old grandson. She is a waitress and her income is based on her tips. Becoming a full time care taker, she was forced to cut back her shifts to accommodate childcare and appointments. Making ends meet was a daily struggle, but she knew what she had to do for her family. When asked to complete a wish lists, she asked for age-appropriate books and winter clothing. Through the generosity of the donors, we were able to provide her with a little more which included diapers and wipes, plenty of books and toys, warm pajamas, a special night light, and a gift card so that she can get other supplies that she needed. When the social worker arrived at her door just days before Christmas, she burst into tears and started shaking. She was so thankful and while she does not like to ask for help, she recognized that this sweet little boy needs certain things and although she can love him and keep him safe, she also could use assistance to make his Christmas bright and to help her get through the difficult months ahead.
Our donors in our local communities who help to fulfill holiday wishes that may not otherwise be possible. The smile on a child’s face when they open a gift, and the relief a parent might feel knowing that they have been able to provide for their child on so many levels, is priceless.
For children, who may have experienced a loss or have been separated from their parents, to be able to feel like a child and enjoy the magic of the holidays is wonderful. While it does not negate the challenges and trauma they might have experienced, for a moment in time, it lets them simply just “be a kid”.
The Framingham Area Office supports children and families in 23 towns. Many children reside in intact families, while others are supported in settings outside of their home. Such settings can include foster care, or residential settings. We also support a number of youth over 18 many of whom have grown up in our care, and have chosen to voluntarily continue to receive support. On behalf of the entire staff, and the children we serve and protect, thank you for making the holidays special this year.
I apologize for the lengthy email, but it is so important for you to recognize what a difference you are making.
Thank you, Kay
Kay Lowe, LCSW