Giving Thanks and "Paying It Forward"
Thanksgiving is a time of year when people give thanks, but it also can be a great time to give back to those who are in need.
Read Pat and Jesus's stories. They are CFCNCA beneficiaries that went served others as a result of the support and assistance they received through their respective charities.
Sometimes, things “just happen.” Pat was working as a special education teacher’s aide for challenged children. While playing Capture the Flag during a sports lesson, she injured herself and tore her lateral meniscus. Unable to walk and work, Pat faced permanent unemployment and a number of other challenges that followed the injury.
Pat’s insurance claim was been delayed, and for months, she had no source of income to pay the rent and support her family. In addition, she had a daughter who was in high school and a son with a chronic knee injury—both of whom required financial investments above and beyond what Pat was able to provide.
In dire need of help, Pat reached out to a local CFCNCA-funded charity. Thanks to the support provided by that charity, Pat was able to get rental assistance and provide consistent meals for her family.
In an effort to pay it forward, Pat spread the word while volunteering at a local church about the help she received. She believed that it was her responsibility to share her story and promote the charity’s services so that individuals in need would know where to turn for help.
Pat said, “I thank God for my charity...we would have been homeless without the help we’ve received from this program.”
Although she still doesn’t know if she’ll be able to get her job back in the new school year, she is extremely grateful for the help offered through charities that are supported by Federal workers and the CFCNCA.
Jesus recalls, “When I was little, my dad wasn’t making enough money to support our family even though he often worked 12 hours a day, so my mother had to go out and look for assistance. She came across a CFC-funded charity, and through their food pantry, we were able to have food on our table.”
In high school, Jesus got a chance to “pay it forward” by volunteering at that same organization to fulfill his school’s service hours. He enjoyed his time there immensely and felt good about the contributions he made each day to support others like himself. While working at the food pantry, he was approached by a mentor who suggested he consider working at a nonprofit full-time. “I leapt at the chance because I saw it as another opportunity to give back to the community…it really was a no-brainer,” said Jesus.
Today Jesus is a college student, but he also works at a CFCNCA-funded food pantry full-time. The work that he does day-to-day ensures help and hope for homeless individuals and families in need. He believes that his commitment to service is rooted in his past.
“I feel so empowered knowing that I came from a place where everybody was helping us, but that now, I’m the one behind the desk helping other people. If it wasn’t for my CFC-funded charity, I might not be here today,” added Jesus.
Neither Pat nor Jesus’s stories are all that uncommon.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “food insecurity” affects more than 14.9 percent of U.S. households and more than 50 million people, about one in six U.S. residents.
A lack of resources forces many to cut back on meals and disrupt their usual eating patterns.
According to The State of Homelessness in America 2012, more than 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year in the United States. Thirty-five percent of the homeless population is made up of families with children, which is the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, and 23 percent is made up of U.S. military veterans.
Each of us shares the responsibility to contribute to the welfare of our neighbors and communities in a measurable way. Pat and Jesus are both examples of individuals who gratefully give thanks by “paying it forward.”
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, once wrote, “every good act is charity. A man’s true wealth hereafter is the good that he does in this world to his fellows.”
During this holiday season, we encourage you to “do a good act” by donating through the CFCNCA.org to your favorite charity or cause.