Living in shelter in nonpandemic times is difficult enough. Caring for your child in shelter, while being separated from your husband and older sons is egregious. Making use of HHI programs — CHOP Night and SPARK — helped one resident keep her daughter healthy and in good spirits during their time living in shelter.

Karen helping with donations Surviving and thriving beyond shelter — reunification with your husband and older sons in a home of their own — is nothing short of a blessing! Add to that, finding and securing employment and volunteering in the community and at CHOP as a way to pay it forward for the help received while in shelter is what HHI is proud to support.

In the case of this family, moving out of the shelter and into a place of their own doesn’t mean families don’t still have needs. They do, and the pandemic has exacerbated those needs. HHI provided this family ongoing support and referrals for assistance, including CAP4Kids and the CHOP Community Connects resource link, which came in handy for finding help. Also, bringing holiday toys donated to HHI by CHOP occupational therapist Emily Thomas, MS OTR/L, and special gifts provided by Program Leader Karen Hudson, PhD, MSW, LSW, during the holiday season helped this family to enjoy the holiday.

According to the mother, “HHI is truly the best, and I thank you.”

Another former shelter family also experienced HHI’s continued support and generosity.

Holiday Spirit in Honor of a Loved One

On the morning of Christmas Eve, HHI social work trainer Melissa Johnson, MSW, was busy wrapping presents when she received a text from one mother she knew well from People Emergency Center’s Women’s Wellness sessions. She was a regular participant in Women’s Wellness, as well as health education and CHOP Night. Her children enjoyed participating in SPARK and art. She had moved out of shelter, and Johnson hadn’t heard from her in a while.

Her text “Can someone please help me get my kids some Christmas gifts please” glowed among the wrapping paper and ribbon on Johnson’s table.

When Johnson sighed, her husband knew something was wrong. She told him about the text, and he immediately said, “Perfect. Maybe this will help me get into the Christmas spirit.”

He was not in the Christmas spirit this year because it was our first Christmas without his mother, Linda, who had lost her long and bravely fought battle with breast cancer in July. Kind, generous Linda embodied the Christmas spirit and always found ways to help people, and she passed these traits down to her children and grandchildren. What better way to celebrate Christmas than to honor her legacy of service?

My husband strapped on his facemask and headed out to the store to buy clothing and dolls for the children and a cozy bathrobe, slippers and lotion for their mom. She had not asked for anything for herself, but he knew she deserved it. Later that afternoon, he delivered the presents and continued his mother’s legacy of finding joy by giving to others.

HHI is pleased to support families both in shelter and beyond. HHI works hard to stay in touch and continue to help as needed.

Contributed by: Karen Hudson, PhD, MSW, LSW, Melissa Berrios Johnson, MSW

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