Shut Up and Help

5743685921_aee6a7083b_bThis is my 5th holiday season participating in Uplift Family Services‘ Adopt-A-Family program. I’ve received my wish list for a needy family and I will mobilize my network to help me buy everything from a Safeway gift card to a toy firetruck. It’s a wonderful program that uplifts me just as much as the family I’m helping. If you’re in the Bay Area and you’d like more information, please contact the incredible Antoinette Harris right away.

I was shocked and pissed off by one scroogey response I got when asking people to help me make Christmas a possibility for my family.

Sarah: Can you help me out and buy an action figure for my adopted family?
Scrooge: How are the families selected?
Sarah: I don’t know.
Scrooge: How do you know they’re actually poor?
Sarah: I just know.
Scrooge: My students show up at the beginning of the school year without school supplies and have an iPhone 6.

I asked Antoinette how the families are accepted and she replied with the following:

I only refer families who are current or past clients (they have received services directly from us within the past 18 months- this is our direct follow up period). Our program staff meet with the families in their homes multiple times per week do we see then in their natural setting and we are aware of what they have and don’t have. We also have students who are in our school based mental program. Although we primarily see them at school, we also do home visits. Although none of our programs have income requirements, 75 percent have MediCal, they receive some type of government assistance, or they are undocumented and have very little income. The majority of the families involved in our Kinship program are retired, disabled and they might receive about $372 for the related child in their care (a fraction of that amount is added for additional siblings).

When it is time for selecting families for AAF, I have the case managers and clinicians carefully select families who have the greatest needs. If I have questions regarding the family’s financial status, those families are put on hold until their status is clarified; I have no problem letting them know they will not be adopted (we typically provide them with donated movie tickets).

I was introduced to the AAF concept about 18 years ago. I was told then and I maintain now that the program is to assist those who have a demonstrated need and could benefit from having additional clothing, basis household items and a few fun items. We encourage families to select games and fun educational items so they can have positive family time. When families (especially teens) cone up with elaborate gift items, we redirect them.

I have been questioned every year about where we find the families, how we know them, how do we know they won’t sell the items and why don’t they get a job or save money to buy their own gifts. I have learned to answer with a smile, give a brief answer and direct them to our website so they can learn more about our services, the type of people we serve, success stories and our outcomes.

So there Scrooge, you shit head.


Shut Up and Help

I Voted With Some Bad Hombres

I went to my polling place in downtown Berkeley today and the volunteers told me to vote in any private place I could find. It was me, a guy and four chihuahuas. I bet you can guess who the chihuahuas voted for.

I Voted With Some Bad Hombres