While Friends operates a set of important initiatives to assist clients and support nurses every day, we have the flexibility to respond to additional immediate needs. In 2020 this has been, of course, COVID-19. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we served as a crucial stopgap for NFP participants. Many of whom faced food insecurity, job loss, and furlough at greater rates due to the pandemic.
We supplied $90,000 worth of VISA gift cards to mothers suffering during the pandemic. We assisted over 400 clients who could not afford critical essentials for their babies (diapers, formula, cribs, etc.) as well as food and critical medications. Below, we share notes and stories from nurses and clients.
Having aged out of foster care, BL lived in a shelter for over 3 years. Just 3 months into obtaining her own apartment, she caught COVID-19. Because she was required to self-isolate, she lost her job and could not go to Public Assistance to complete a necessary recertification. She couldn’t afford basic needs for her baby or herself.
AB lost her job in January. To make matters worse, she experienced domestic violence and had to move out in February. Without the financial support that her partner had provided, she cannot pay for baby formula for her child.
“My husband and I have an 8-week-old baby girl. He was working but the employer closed and then he got very sick with COVID-19. It has been over a month and he is still showing symptoms and is out of work. I caught the virus two weeks later and our baby is now showing symptoms. We are terrified for her life. This has been one of the worst experiences of our lives, and it has been especially hard to cope with as new parents.”
“As undocumented individuals, we do not qualify for the stimulus check that the government has provided to many Americans. And without social security numbers, we face difficulty finding employment. We have filed our taxes since we were 18 years old, and still we will not receive any relief from the government. We have run out of money; our savings depleted during these last two months in quarantine. We need some help for food, on which we spend around $400.00 a month, and diapers which cost around $100.00 for a month’s supply. There are also our bills for Con-Edison ($150.00), phone ($163.00), cable and internet ($95.00), and of course, rent ($1875.00). We also need funds for my prenatal vitamins ($35.00). I must purchase them myself because the ones the doctor provided made me sick. I was not working the last two months of my pregnancy, but plan to go back to work when my baby turns six months old. D plans to go back as soon as there is an employment opportunity and the virus symptoms go away. Marisol, our nurse home-visitor, told us about the Heart’s Desire Emergency Response program and we would greatly appreciate it if you could help us in any way. Like many others, we are very uncertain about our future.”
“I want to say THANK YOU so much from the bottom of my heart for the gift card. It will go for essentials that I could not afford for my baby girl Joy. It is hard during this crazy time when my husband and I have both lost our jobs and when businesses are hiking up their prices. Words cannot describe my appreciation for this gift. It may not seem like a lot to some but to me this goes a long way and because of you my baby will be able to get the things she needs. Both my daughter and I are blessed to be a part of this AMAZING program.”
From nurse supervisors:
“The COVID-19 emergency has in no small way impacted our client’s lives, many have lost their jobs, while in some households, both clients and their significant others have been furloughed leaving already overwhelmed grandparents to provide financial support from limited resources. Thank you as you continue to provide avenues to our clients to meet emergency needs–including everything from diapers and food to medications and phone minutes–and your ongoing program to support their heart’s desires for better education and self-sufficiency. Our clients are overlooked by so many of the common social service programs.”
“You all are lifesavers! This pandemic has hit NYC really hard – our clients are experiencing delayed unemployment checks or stimulus payments, some clients are undocumented and can’t file for unemployment and most have no paid sick leave. Although there are food banks, and we certainly direct clients to them, they may be distant, have long lines, have limited supplies and are inaccessible to those who are sick.”
“I heard from a client yesterday who said that the emergency funds enabled her to buy lancets so she could test her blood sugar (she has diabetes). She normally makes money waiting tables and bartending. She is very resourceful, but I know that the extra money was not only critical for her health but relieved her budgetary stress.”
“One of my clients is 23 weeks pregnant, at risk for preterm labor, and will now be able to take an Uber to the hospital instead of walking. She had been advised not to walk as it triggers contractions, but until now she had no other transportation option. It’s a small mercy but it means a lot to our clients who are struggling right now.”