2014-2015 Success Stories
A woman called and left a message. She was so happy that her gift had just arrived that while she was leaving her message, I could hear in the background the rustling of her opening the gift. One by one she took each item out and was equally surprised with each gift. She couldn’t believe we sent her exactly what she wanted and questioned “how did you ever know?”. To her surprise, we just followed the survey she filled out.
Another phone call we received was a bit of a surprise to us. He was upset that we sent a gift to he and his wife when all they wanted was for us to help a family with children in need. Then he saw what we did. We sent him a picture of 4 children who all received a gift in their name and were sent to dinner.
I added my mother-in-law’s name to the angel list. For many reasons. She was given a bag full of jammies and a beautiful blanket. For those that wonder what goes through our seniors minds when they receive our gifts. I can share with you first hand. The blanket she received she loved it so much she used it all the time. At the end she cried out for that blanket many times and told me at one point it was the softest blanket she had every had. In her final days that blanket was the one thing she requested over and over again to have with her. She passed away with her favorite blanket. So if at anytime anyone ever wonders how important the gifts you are donating are to our seniors, this should help you understand it could be the greatest gift they ever received.
Our Emergency Program is for just what it states, emergencies. It is for items that need to be bought, fixed, found or donated. Referrals come from social workers, neighbors, and clients themselves. Not all referrals meet the guidelines but we try to fill what we can. 2014/2015 we helped quite a few seniors, but here are just a few of those stories.
A 90 year old woman who was referred to us by her neighbor. After talking with the woman, we discovered that she was in need of glasses as she was nearly blind without them and also needed food. We set up an appointment with an eye doctor, arranged a ride to get there and paid for her glasses. On the way home from her eye appointment, we took her to the grocery store for a load of groceries. After that we helped her locate food banks close to her and set her up to receive Meals on Wheels.
Some referrals are harder than others. This 78 year old woman had been referred to us by a social worker. She has been hospitalized for three weeks and had no family to help her. While she was away, her pet cat was home alone with nobody to care for it. Her apartment was unsafe to return to. We were able to help by paying for her apartment to be cleaned, including her rugs. We collected items so that we could replace her sofa and other items such as lamps, a table, a bedliner and even got her gift cards for clothing.
Seniors have difficulties moving. For this, we receive many requests for assistance. In one week, we received two requests for two different men in their 70s needing help relocating. They both had been placed in nursing homes and lost everything. Now, they were ready to move out on their own but had no money, no furniture, and no family to help. That is where our services are needed. When seniors are placed in a nursing home, their social security checks are sent directly to the home. Unfortunately, that means that when they are ready to leave, they have no money saved for a deposit on an apartment and have nothing to furnish it. For both of these men, we paid their security deposit, first month’s rent and gave them some items for their apartments.
Another reason to move is for safety reasons. A 74 year old woman needed to move from the second floor to the first floor. A social worker referred her. For this specific township, a deposit was needed for electric before she moved into her new apartment because the township monitors it. She did not have the funds to pay this deposit so we paid the deposit for her.
A social worker referred a man in his 60s to us who was in a wheelchair with a bone disorder. This man needed special orthotics. Insurance paid most of it but he had to pay the rest, on top of a co-pay. He was unable to pay both so The Christmas Gala paid for his co-pay.
Family Service’s Case Managers working with Bucks County Housing Authority (BCHA) Senior Housing residents often turn to The Christmas Gala during times of need. Residents commonly request help obtaining air conditioners during the summer months, as they are essential for older adults who are particularly susceptible to heat stroke. This may seem like a simple request; however the air conditioners needed are not your average window unit. The air conditioners needed for the BCHA apartment buildings are a specific, pricey model used with existing metal sleeves that are built into the windows.
Last summer, The Christmas Gala purchased an air conditioner for Kate, a resident in her 70’s. Kate was a widow living on limited social security retirement income, and she could not afford this $550 air conditioning unit. Thanks to The Christmas Gala, the air conditioner improved Kate’s comfort and quality of life during several difficult health crises. When Kate passed away earlier this summer, her family wanted to pay forward the kindness of The Christmas Gala, so they donated Kate’s air conditioner to Cheryl, another resident in need. Cheryl, also a widow in her 70’s, is now living more comfortably in her upper floor apartment thanks to The Christmas Gala’s generosity in fulfilling this basic need.
Bernadette O’Connor, MA
Coordinator of Older Adult Programs
Family Service Association
4 Cornerstone Drive
Langhorne, PA 19047