Ginger has six grandchildren ranging in age from six to fifteen. A few months ago, all six of them came to live with her unexpectedly. Ginger’s daughter had become addicted to drugs was no longer able to care for her children. At about the same time, the children’s father abandoned the family. Ginger says that as a grandmother, she had no choice but to take the children in. She was retired, on a limited income, had no transportation, and had only lived in Florida for a year or so. She knew she was woefully unequipped to provide for six children. To top it all off, Christmas was coming and these children could not handle another disappointment.
Ginger called a number of places looking for assistance but learned that she was too late to register the family for any holiday program. Registrations for Christmas assistance had already closed by October. Ginger was not familiar with specific community social service agencies that might help families in need because she had never needed that information before. Up until November, she had only had herself to worry about. Now, she had no idea where to turn. A friend mentioned Goodwill to Ginger and suggested she try contacting Goodwill through Facebook. So that’s exactly what Ginger did. Her request was received by the Goodwill Foundation and passed along to Mission Services. Missions Services then passed it along to Shirley - one of Goodwill’s GoodPartner Coaches. Shirley called Ginger immediately and the ball began to roll. Shirley made a complete list of all the children’s needs. Ginger may not have been familiar with the social services agencies in town but Shirley was most definitely very familiar with them.
Shirley started by sending out an email to the Newtown Community Services Coalition - a group she helped Goodwill Manasota establish in 1996. The role of the NCSC was to bring community partners together to find solutions for the disparities of the Newtown community. Immediately, Shirley began receiving responses to her email from various service providers stating their willingness to help the family. In fact, the responses poured in. Shirley heard from the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota, First United Methodist Church of Bradenton, the Saint Vincent DePaul Society, Alive Church, the Sarasota Health Department, Baycross Christian Family Foundation, and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, just to name a few.
When all was said and done, the family received a bunk-bed, grocery store gift cards, bags of toys for the kids, gift cards galore, girls’ and boys’ cologne sets, backpacks, a boys’ watch/wallet set, a skateboard, a Disney “Frozen” doll, a remote control car, books, puzzles, and more! Ginger was overwhelmed with the abundance of gifts the family received. She told Shirley that her heart was full of joy and thankfulness.
Ginger wasn’t sure she was up to daunting the task of parenting six children all by herself but thanks to Shirley’s assistance, suddenly she didn’t feel so alone anymore. Ginger is glad Goodwill was there when she had nowhere else to turn. It’s what we do . . .