Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We all need a little help sometimes

As we enter into this holiday season, we turn our attention toward family and giving. With all of the news of financial crisis and recession this year, many families have found themselves in financial turmoil due to loss of employment, loss of their home, medical debt, etc. Having a special needs child invariably adds to the stress level of maintaining financial solvency, particularly when health care costs are going up, and not all needed services may be covered.

This season I find myself in a novel situation. Our family is completely without employment. This isn’t our first experience with being laid off, and I’m sure it won’t be the last either. But, since we now have two boys with autism, my husband and I made the decision several years ago for me to stay home to help coordinate their therapy, schooling and care. So, we went from a single income family making it work month-to-month, to now being a family without income. Fortunately, we are doing alright for now, but this got me to thinking about other families out there who may not be as lucky in this type of situation.

There are actually a lot of resources out there. By no means do I know them all or claim to be an expert, but I thought I would share some that I’ve come across that may be of help to you or someone you know. A good place to start is with State of Washington to determine if you qualify for anything. The website is http://access.wa.gov and you click on “Living in Washington” and then click on “Health and Social Services.” There is an eligibility calculator and information on various state services available for those who need them.

By far, my favorite resource is 2-1-1. It is an all-inclusive service that can provide you with resources for any locale and any need. The website for Washington State is http://www.resourcehouse.com/win211/. Once at the website, you click on the blue “Start a Search” button. You can search by keyword, topic, or location. It’s a fairly comprehensive service that should provide you with lots of valuable information. You can also simply dial 2-1-1 on your phone to be connected with this resource.

The following is a short list of service providers in the Spanaway/Puyallup area, and I found them in the local school district newsletter, “Bethel Pride,” November 2009 issue, page 2.

Bethel Family Center
18020 B St E
- Toys for kids from babies to children age 18
- New winter clothing
- New personal hygiene items
- Disposable diapers

Community Care Ministries
13202 224th St E (Old Thrift Community Hall)
Fridays 10am to noon
- Toys for babies to children age 18
- Stocking stuffers
- High-protein food items like tuna and peanut butter

First Place for Children
12108 Pacific Ave S
- Coats, hats and gloves
- Children’s underwear

Miracle Makers – A nonprofit organization that helps families in crisis.
Mary Wilson, Director
PO Box 1191
Spanaway, WA 98387
- Seeks family financial assistance
- Needs groups or individuals who are willing to adopt families

Salvation Army (South Hill)
4009 9th St SW
- Canned vegetables, turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie filling
- Juice
- Cash donations

Youth Resources Inc. – Serving homeless youth.
- Hoodies, socks, cash donations

Graham Food Bank
Open Mon/Wed/Fri, 1:30 to 4pm

Spanaway FISH Food Bank
16001 A St E, Spanaway
Call 253-383-1817 for an appointment between 9:15am to noon
Open Mon/Wed/Fri, 1 to 2pm

Roy FISH Food Bank
220 1st St, Roy
Call 253-843-3033 for an appointment between 9:30am to noon
Open Wed/Fri, 1 to 3pm

I would like to encourage families who do not have major struggles to overcome this season, to think about giving in some way to your local community. This can be as simple as making a small donation to a charity or food bank in your neighborhood, volunteering your time, or a beautiful gesture of adopting a family in need for the holidays. If you take a minute to visit the 2-1-1 website listed above, you will find lots of local charities that could use your help in a variety of ways. Don't forget to get your kids involved whenever possible! It is a rewarding experience for the whole family to participate in giving together. Who knows? You might even start a new family tradition for the holidays.

If your family finds itself in need this holiday season, I wish you all the best as you search for and secure assistance. I hope that I may have provided some sort of helpful information to ease your burden. Please take care, and I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

**Update as of 12/13/09** - Only a couple of days left for this opportunity!

Payless ShoeSource Shoes 4 Kids program has partnered with the Hope Center’s Hope’s Kids program to provide families with children in need with a pair of brand new shoes!! (Children ages 1-13)

Eligible Families Must:

1. Complete the attached application at http://www.paylessgives.com/programUSEnglish.html

2. Provide proof of income (families must be 80% or below of the area median income)

3. Provide a valid government issued ID

4. Provide a birth certificate for each child (limit two children per household)

Upon being eligible each child will receive one (1) voucher for $15.00 to take to any Payless Store to redeem and pick out their shoes at a local Payless Shoe Source store. Interested families should complete the application with the appropriate documents and return to the address below no later than
December 15, 2009.

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