Summer is one of the busiest times of year for our programs and services team. During July and August, they’ll interview nearly 300 families during signups for our Clothes-4-Kids™ and Holiday Adopt-A-Family™ programs. In the past, these summer signups have been held in rented and borrowed spaces. This year, thanks to our new office, we have the space to conduct interviews at Bellevue LifeSpring.
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The first family of the day arrives at the Bellevue LifeSpring office at 8:20 a.m. They’re early for their 8:45 a.m. appointment but, “I didn’t want to be late,” shares the woman who comes in. She has her two daughters with her, both carrying “magic” wands that they twirl to watch the glitter catch the light.
The woman’s name is Julia. She and her daughters are one of the 14 families that our programs and services team will interview today. Each family has a unique story and background that has brought them to Bellevue LifeSpring. Some are referred by other organizations, some by friends, some by Family Connections Center staff in the Bellevue School District.
One family referred by their Family Connections Center is Tara. She and her three kids are homeless, living with friends and relatives while they try to get back on their feet. Having no place to call home is something Tara is still trying to come to terms with, but she’s staying strong.
“I’m trying to realize that this is my reality right now and to stay positive in spite of that,” says Tara, tearing up. “I have to be there for my kids. They’re my motivation.”
Before she goes, Tara “shops” in our pantry for food and other basic needs items like paper towels and laundry detergent. They also select a few items from the donated toys and clothing available. “Thank you so much,” she says as she leaves. “This means so much to us.”
Another family that touches our hearts is a mother who comes in with her three children. We’ve served Alisha and her family before but she rarely opens up, partly because her 10-year-old son acts as her translator. The Human Services Administrator asks him what their greatest challenge has been this past year, which he relays to his mother in Arabic. Alisha falls silent and puts her head down. Her children are quiet too. Finally, she begins to speak slowly to her son, who tells us that she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer three years ago. Every six months, she must visit the doctor to ensure that it hasn’t returned. “My kids are scared, they worry every time I have an appointment,” she relates through her son. Medical expenses can take a significant toll on a family’s budget. Alisha leaves with Clothes-4-Kids gift cards to purchase back-to-school clothing and shoes for each of her three kids, and the knowledge that, come Christmastime, their family will be matched with a generous community sponsor to provide food, clothing and gifts for the holidays.
Our Bellevue community allows us to give these gifts of warmth, comfort and peace to families in times of crisis, families who often have nowhere else to turn. Your support means everything to these children and their parents, who are struggling to make ends meet. The strength and solidarity of a community behind them is the greatest gift of all.