Not all heroes wear capes, and the philanthropic spirit of our community during the 2020 Giving Challenge helped to save the day for hundreds of at-risk children and families. During this time, our families were suddenly facing a crisis like never before due to the unforeseen circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Children First, 89% of families served live below the Federal Poverty Level, which is just $21,960 for a family of three. Even under the best of circumstances, our families are often the first to get hurt, are hurt the worst, and the last to recover. With hundreds of our parents facing reduced work hours and job loss as a result of the coronavirus, families began experiencing an even greater level of housing and food insecurity.
Utilizing the support from our community "superheroes" during the 2020 Giving Challenge, Children First was able to help families address issues immediately by providing assistance with rent or utilities and delivering critical supplies like food, diapers and wipes, and infant formula.
One of the families impacted by this support was the Somera family. Maria and Jorge are loving parents to two bright and vivacious children, David (age 4) and Anna (age 2). Originally from Mexico, the hard-working couple moved to Southwest Florida for better opportunities. After settling with family in North Port, the two worked diligently to rebuild their lives, fighting for self-sufficiency and facing unimaginable obstacles.
Eventually, they began a family of their own and were directed to Children First, where their children began receiving the high-quality education and care they needed to thrive. This allowed Maria and Jorge to focus on their careers and continue their own education, as well as start their own business.
As small business owners, their lives were drastically changed when COVID-19 began impacting our community. With few opportunities for new clients and Maria now staying at home to care for the children, the family was soon struggling to keep up with bills.
"I am sharing our story in the hopes that we can help other families. Because of Children First, the Giving Challenge, and our incredible community of supporters, I know that I am no longer alone and that my family's future is brighter than ever before. Thank you for being our superheroes!" - Maria Somera, Children First Parent and Policy Council Chair.
The support of those who participated in the Giving Challenge became a lifeline for parents like Maria and Jorge. With utilities and rent assistance, as well as regular deliveries of "Angel Bags" with necessary food and supplies, the family has been able to get back on their feet. Their oldest child, David, is confident and ready to move on to Kindergarten in the fall, while Anna will be transitioning from the Early Head Start program into Head Start.
At Children First, the families we serve are diverse, but they all have one thing in common: they are trying to provide a better life, not only for their children, but for themselves and our community.
For more about Children First, visit https://www.childrenfirst.net/