Coming Full Circle; A Personal Reflection

Eryka Santoyo, FCNI Program Supervisor
November, 27, 2019 -

Sponsor a Child is my most cherished fundraising campaign to be a part of here at Family Care Network. When I was interviewing for my position at FCNI, one of the first things that was mentioned was Sponsor a Child, our annual effort to work directly with our community to raise awareness and financial resources to ensure that the families and youth in our care have a joyful and bright holiday season. Having come from a family who had received similar services when I was younger, I instantly knew that I needed to work at Family Care Network.

I know how much it meant to me and my family to receive gifts and financial support from our community during the holidays. The support came during a very traumatic time for my mom, little brother, and me. I was 13 and my brother was 7, and my parents had just gone through a very intense divorce, which ultimately ended up with my dad leaving our family, clearing the house of its valuables, and leaving our family extremely vulnerable, heartbroken and unsure of how we were going to move forward.

In the months leading up to the Holidays, my mom was recovering from a double rotator cuff surgery resulting in her being unable to work and having to apply for disability support. Without the support of a dual-income household, my mom was struggling to make ends meet.

The financial hardships only continued to snowball; it got so bad that my mom was trying to pay our rent with the cash she got from turning in the recycling that we found when she and I would walk around collecting cans and glass bottles from our neighborhood. So come the holidays, my mom had no idea how she would make rent, let alone provide my brother and me with our basic needs and then Christmas presents on top of all that. 

As you can imagine, this was an extremely embarrassing and sad time for our whole family. There was a great sense of shame looming over our house. Each of us were doing everything we could to make ends meet, but still coming up short. It was one of the darkest times in my family’s life and honestly, it felt so overwhelming that I didn’t know if things would ever be “okay” again. 

And then, as if the universe heard every one of our pleas and prayers, our community wrapped around us and sparked hope back into our family. We were selected to receive donated food to make several holiday meals, additional funds to purchase school supplies and other basic items we had gone without, as well as two presents for my brother and me. They were precious resources donated by gracious human beings with a heart for others in need and I will absolutely never forget the overwhelming sense of gratitude, relief, and appreciation I felt when all of this arrived at our home. 

I recently spoke with my mom about this time of our lives when I told her about the Sponsor a Child campaign we host here at FCNI. She went right back in that moment with me- those feelings of gratitude never leave you. I went on to explain how we purchase gift cards that the parents can use to go out and purchase meals, decor, and gifts for their loved ones, and she was just so excited to hear that. She shared that that time in her life was riddled with insecurity that she could not provide for her kids, especially during Christmas, and if she had received gift cards, she could only imagine what that would have done for her confidence to have been able to be a part of the planning process in addition to providing for her kids.

I wanted to share my family’s personal experience because this is what our community is providing the families we serve at Family Care Network. Families in our care face so many trials and trauma, and while the gifts they receive during this time won’t be a magic fix to everything, it will provide them with a bright and merry holiday season they will never forget. No matter the size of your donation, you are making a difference in these families’ lives. You are contributing to something they will carry with them forever. I have never forgotten the support my family received and the graciousness that was bestowed on us--it brought us joy, provided us with hope, and gave us a positive holiday experience in the midst of a time that felt overwhelmingly dark. And having lived this experience is one of the many reasons I love working at Family Care Network--now I get to raise funds for our programs and fundraising efforts like Sponsor a Child. It is my way of giving back what was so graciously given to me and my family. I hope you will find it in your heart to donate to Sponsor a Child and Be the Difference in these children and families’ lives this Holiday season.




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