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  • Writer's pictureSherry

Life Comes Full Circle by Marika McCall

My career in the nonprofit field began after working for several years in the corporate world, where I experienced toxic work cultures and witnessed corporate greed. That is absolutely not the case for all companies, but it was what inspired me to pursue work where I could stand behind a mission of helping people, where I could leave work each day and feel like I made even a small difference in someone’s life.

What connects me to the mission of Families Forward is that emergencies can happen to anyone: loss of a job, an illness, a death in the family or a divorce can be devastating, both emotionally and financially. In my early twenties, there was a time when I was working full time making $11/hr. and was unable to pay my rent. I was lucky enough to have a support system to help me, but many people do not have the resources or support to keep them from falling into a housing crisis.

In fundraising, a big part of our job is sharing with donors the stories of the families and individuals that successfully graduate from our programs. But that can be difficult when you don’t work closely with program staff or speak directly with the families. Every so often, though, I will hear a success story first-hand that is fulfilling for our entire team. This story will be difficult to forget.

One day, I called a donor to thank him for his recent donation. He shared with me that he had experienced job loss after the “dotcom” bust in 2000. After several months of being unemployed and at risk of losing his home, his wife encouraged him to reach out to Families Forward for help. We were able to help them regain financial stability and self-sufficiency, and he wanted to give back to the organization that gave them a hand up when they needed it most.

It's stories like this that remind me of our shared fragility and the need to support our neighbors to maintain a thriving community.

Families Forward’s vision is to end homelessness for Orange County families. Families Forward serves families with minor aged children who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness, all of whom are extremely-low to low-income earners. While all Families Forward’s clients are low-income, 73% are also single parent families and 39% of our housing clients have a disabled family member, while 5% of families in our housing program are veteran or military-connected. In 2021, Families Forward served 668 families comprised of 2,223 children and adults.

The past two years have brought a record number of requests for Families Forward’s services to help vulnerable individuals and families overcome hunger and homelessness. Join Families Forward, and 23 other homeless service providers in Helping Them Home on April 27th by giving to support the greatest needs of local children and parents experiencing homelessness.

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