While Friends operates a set of important initiatives to assist NFP moms and support nurses every day, we have the flexibility to respond to additional immediate needs. In 2020 our main focus, of course, was the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we served as a crucial stop gap for NFP participants. Many of whom faced food insecurity, job loss and furlough at greater rates due to the pandemic.
In 2020, we supplied $90,000 worth of VISA gift cards to mothers suffering during the COVID pandemic. We assisted more than 400 clients who could not afford critical essentials for their babies (diapers, formula, cribs, etc.) as well as food and critical medications.
Help When It’s Needed Most
Brooke (name changed for privacy) had finally moved into her own apartment after living in the shelter system for 3 years. Like many in 2020, she fell ill with COVID-19 and was required to self-isolate. As a result, she was unable to work and was in need of essentials for herself and her baby. Brooke applied for emergency funding which helped her and her little one stay well while she navigated public assistance options.
By 2022, Friends had extended emergency funding to more than 30 clients, which was almost half of the total number of awards granted that year. In 2023 we solidified Emergency Funding in our main pillars of work and created the Emergency Fund as an official resource moms could tap into when life through them an extra sharp curve.
What It Means To Help
“As undocumented individuals, we do not qualify for the stimulus check the government has provided 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 a month, and diapers which cost around $100 for a month’s supply. There are also our bills for Con-Edison ($150), phone ($163), cable and internet ($95), and of course, rent ($1875). We also need funds for my prenatal vitamins ($35). 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. [My babies Father] 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.”
“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.”
“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.”