Gifts come in all shapes and sizes—from extravagant, to handmade, or sentimental and even humorous. While every gift given for the pure joy of its recipient is meaningful, “life changing” gifts are in a category all to themselves. These are the gifts that when given, change the mindset, the circumstances and even the futures of those being gifted. Every holiday season, Mike McCarthy partners with us to give such a gift to one of our families working towards successful self-sufficiency. And witnessing each family’s joy at receiving Mike’s gift leaves not one dry eye at FCNI, and reminds each of us that we live in a truly remarkable community.
It’s no secret that all of us need help, no one get through life successfully without a lot of helping hands. And many of us will face obstacles that simply cannot be overcome without someone’s—or many someones’--help. All of the families in our care need a lot of support. The obstacles they face due to the impact of trauma in their lives cannot be easily overcome, and certainly not without help. And while our staff all work creatively and collaboratively with every available agency and resource to provide the guidance and help they need, we simply cannot meet every single need without our community, our most precious resource.
This past week, Mike McCarthy, an amazing community member, stepped forward to offer his unique help to a family of ours who have been facing a daily obstacle that they weren’t able to overcome on their own, despite their tremendous efforts. Robert, a single dad of five children, didn’t have a safe, reliable car large enough to transport his family. Despite working fulltime, Robert’s income wasn’t able to cover the cost of living on the Central Coast and the payments on a newer, larger vehicle. And with five children to transport, a car wasn’t about luxury or even convenience—it was a necessity, and without it, Robert couldn’t fully meet his family’s basic needs. For the past year, Robert’s entire focus has been on reunifying with his children, under one, stable roof with enough income and resources to meet all of their needs. Securing a car was one critical component of this larger puzzle—a piece that regardless of Robert’s effort, felt unattainable until Mike McCarthy’s life changing gesture.
When Robert was awarded the car from McCarthy’s on December 13th, he took one vital step closer to reunification with his children—that’s one life changing gift! This car will achieve no small thing, but represents another mountain climbed in Robert’s journey towards being able to provide for his family. And while it was McCarthy’s generosity which met this goal for Robert, it should be stressed that Robert’s tremendous dedication to his family and to the process of reunification is what made this incredible gift possible. As his FCNI Family Partner reflected, “It is a pleasure to work with [Robert] as he has embraced the process of reunification. Some of our parents see it as a list of orders to be finished to get their kids back, not as it really is which is as a roadmap to a better future and happier family. But [Robert] is committed to real change in himself and his family.” Reunification and future success is just not fathomable without a parent willing to make great personal effort towards doing what needs to be done; to putting his or her family first. Regardless of the resources and support made available, if a parent doesn’t commitment to the help, reunification is much more challenging. Robert gives 100%. As his worker stated, “Reunification can be a very daunting and overwhelming process. Regardless of the number of things requested of him, [Robert] forms a plan and accomplishes them. And he always has questions and tries to think about what is best for his children, trying very hard to spend as much time as possible with his children.” By working to be the kind of Father he wants to be, Robert represents a man of true integrity and it was this type of integrity that spoke to Mike McCarthy and motivated him to partner joyfully in helping Robert’s ongoing efforts.
Mike McCarthy’s gift will make a life-long impact on Robert and his children; not only because it meets an immediate, urgent need, but because it also communicates what dedication and hard-work can help you achieve. Mike’s compassionate act will work to inspire Robert to keep working, his children to keep believing, and for us as a community to keep working together to make sure we all have the means and opportunities to flourish. Thank you, Mike McCarthy, and the countless others like you who look within themselves to find ways to give life-changing gifts. We all owe you our gratitude, and we owe it to ourselves and our communities to follow in your footsteps.
We have numerous families just like Robert who continue to need their community’s support. If you’d like to give to FCNI as part of our end of the year giving efforts, please visit FCNI.org.