Dear WestSide Baby Family,
I’m snow-slush-ice-rained-in like many of you. I’m worried about the frozen water for “our” hummingbird. I feel attachment to this tiny creature that flutters before my window in gratitude at her feeder.
AND – I’m overwhelmed with worry for the families who are facing stress at levels I can only imagine. As I struggled with communication to staff, our provider partners, volunteers and each of you who wants to donate items this week, I felt it. The weight of decisions, competing priorities and safety were almost tangible. We have closed 5 days in the past week. This means closed to incoming donations and closed for preparing the orders for the families in the same situation I am in – stuck in the snow.
But that is where the similarity shifts. Here, I’m worried about our teen and his friends getting a snowball in the eye, keeping our daughter off the road. I’m addressing food for them after two nights of snowed-in sleepovers with 7 guests. There is a lost cell phone, possible minor medical issue and lots of wet socks. I can deal with every one of those issues within two blocks of my house.
Many families we serve are living in cars, crowded apartments, on friend’s couches and in homes without proper heat. The children won’t have warm coats, gloves, hats or boots to go outside in. The babies will still soil diapers and the access to dry ones, from us or from a store will be out of reach. It’s not like there were funds to stock up or clear the grocery shelves like happened in many neighborhoods. Stocking up isn’t ever an option for most.
The federal shut-down awakened many to the reality that most families are one paycheck away from disaster. The families were right there on the news in front of us. This past week, right here in King County, this snowstorm hits harder than a furlough. It means no wages for the hourly employees whose workplaces were closed or who couldn’t get out in a car or to a bus. It means the hundreds of provider partners we work with couldn’t work with families on issues or to deliver our items. It means cabin fever at insurmountable levels that leads to stressed caregivers without space or tools to deescalate. It means hungry kids who cannot access their school breakfast or lunches. It means shivers – cold, damp and wet.
Yesterday, our staff sent me their biggest concerns. Without exception, the theme was “diapers, wipes, warm clothes and getting things” for the families we serve. And today, each one of us is trying to figure out how to get to our facility and shovel the parking lot so that it is safe, and accessible to our entire community.
So, friends, let’s plan ahead to this weekend and next week so you can help tell King County families – we have them covered!