Adopt-A-Family Provides Opportunity for Personal Growth

November 20, 2018

aaf girl

Giving can not only help the person receiving your support, it can also provide you with great joy and sometimes even a learning experience. Many staff, volunteers and donors have reflected that participating in Adopt-A-Family has made them grow as a person and increase their compassion and understanding.

Adopt-A-Family focuses on supporting families over the Holidays who are in a vulnerable situation. We define vulnerable in this case to mean that they have extenuating circumstances that have made it very difficult to provide Christmas for their family. All families that are in the program have been referred to us by social service agencies/community partners who have signed agreements with us to confirm that the families they are referring are in need. Their situations vary greatly. This can include domestic violence, a newly split family, a family going through an illness or job loss, a homeless youth, parents or grandparents that have taken over care for children in their extended family, and many more circumstances.

Even though these situations are different for each family, we believe that a moment of community support over the holidays can provide a boost of hope needed to launch a brighter new year. We encourage these children to dream and wish as it’s not common for families living in poverty to dream or have future stories for themselves. We had one social worker share the other day that a youth had a difficult time thinking of what to ask for because no one has ever given him a gift before. When he did dream big, he may have asked for the same brand name items that his friends wear, and if that is his one wish, then we would like to make it happen. These families are living in the stress or crisis of the moment, focused on making day to day decisions just to survive and get by. We have been told by partners that something as simple as being able to treat yourself to a Tim Horton's coffee, thanks to a kind stranger, would help encourage a mom or dad through one of their darkest times.

As an organization, we use a program called Bridges out of Poverty to guide our work. What that has really taught us, is that those of us that live in middle-income situations have different mental models than those who live in poverty. It can be difficult for us to understand and can sometimes lead to judgment. We have been guilty of that in the past. We may not fully understand why the families are asking for what they are, but we believe in the impact this program can have. One story that comes to mind is a youth who asked for a gaming system which at first you might react and think, “wow, that’s a big ask.” Then we found out that it was a terribly sad situation where the dad left the home, and him and his mom, in a very tough financial situation. The dad took his son’s gaming system with him when he went. Emotionally and financially this was an extremely tough time. When this youth received a gaming system for Christmas, it provided him moments of reprieve from his new reality and helped him escape for a few moments from the stress.

We have been fortunate at this point in our program to meet donors who were once recipients of Adopt-A-Family years ago. Hearing them share the impact of the support and how they will always remember how much of a boost getting these special gifts was, is what keeps us committed to how our program operates as this is the outcome we strive for.

There are many ways you can provide this hope and understanding. Find out more about how you can support Adopt-A-Family.