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Read about the difference Holiday Heroes made for one family

January 14, 2011

Lynnette Bednaz works as a family intervention specialist with the Youth Villages Intercept program in Massachusetts. She recently wrote a letter to share with those who contributed to our Holiday Heroes campaign this past season to let them know the difference their contributions made in one family’s holiday.

Dear Holiday Heroes,

This is a story of a 23-year-old young woman who has four children and another on the way.

I have been working with her family in their home for approximately six months. She has worked for two years and has established her independence by moving her family into their own apartment earlier this year.

Recently she lost her job and, though she has been able to keep her apartment, her family has survived on a very meager income. This is a mother with pride and ambition. She wants to go back to school to become a police officer. She wants to be a good mother and she wants to be self-sufficient.

When the Holiday Heroes campaign was introduced to us, I took her wish lists for the children. The children happily imagined the presents they could ask for as if it were just a dream. After all, they don’t have very many material items. Asking for gifts seemed very abstract for these children, but they playfully obliged. I submitted the requests and continued working with the family to connect the mother with basic resources, help her learn parenting techniques and introduce structure into the home.

A few weeks ago, the mother turned to me sadly and said, “I guess there’s not going to be Christmas this year.” When I asked her why, she told me she had missed all of the deadlines to sign up for toy donations and she couldn’t afford Christmas because she had bills to pay.

That day, I found her a donated Christmas tree online, called some programs and worked her onto a few lists. I drove her to donation centers. She was able to obtain one item for each child from the Toys for Joy program and the Toys for Tots program. I helped her wrap the items and she was happy.

When the day arrived with the gifts that the Holiday Heroes purchased, I called her and asked her to come downstairs to my car because I needed her help to carry all of the bags, as each child had a bag full of toys and clothes! The mother was so elated she said she thought she would cry. We brought the bags upstairs and we opened each bag and wrapped the items together.

This prideful, streetwise mother was in tears, as your generosity and thoughtfulness made her Christmas come to life. She beamed with delight as the packages were wrapped and placed under the tree. She later told me that her children were dancing around with excitement when they got home from school.

I want to thank you for taking the time and for creating these memories and moments in this family’s life. For a mother who told me there would be no Christmas, your donations – and the love that inspired you to give – really made a difference.

Thank you!
Lynnette Bednaz, BSW
Youth Villages’ Intercept Family Counselor

We are extremely grateful to those of you who gave to become Holiday Heroes. The children and families we serve need our help throughout the year. Please consider making a gift to Youth Villages today to support our work.

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