September 19th, 2020
We lost count of how many times she said "thank you"!
On the morning of September 19th, volunteers gathered at beautiful St. Luke's Church in San Rafael to check in, sort and pack up donations from our generous Marin community. Our COVID protocol was in place, so donors stayed in their cars while volunteers unloaded the items. Meanwhile, our wonderful volunteer movers from Birch Circle Moving/North Bay Moving picked up the heavy furniture items from the donors' homes. At midday, the truck arrived at the church. We sorted the items by family, loaded the truck and took off for Family 1's home.
Family 1 is a three generation family: Mom, Lorena; her daughters Melanie (24) and Milagros (21); her son Elwin (6); Elwin's Dad, Manuel; and Melanie's son Joachim (5). The family fled Guatemala when Lorena's eldest daughter's life was threatened after the family fell behind on a loan. For a while, they all shared one room in an apartment. Eventually, thanks to North Marin Community Services, the family was able to move into their own apartment a couple of months ago. Lorena is a housekeeper, but since the Covid crisis, she has lost many of her clients. Manuel is a tile layer—fortunately a job that is fairly consistent these days as remodels flourish. Both daughters also work: one in a retail store and one in a restaurant.
This "before" room had a long way to go to become a true "living room". Now the family has a welcoming place where they can relax, catch up on each others' day and spend quality time together.
How to give the family a little more storage space? Our volunteers 'expanded' the room a bit with the addition of these perfect items from our donors.
This room was originally bare bones with a borrowed mattress that Melanie and her son Joachim shared. Thanks to your cash donations, brand new beds were installed for all family members. Other donors picked out new comforters in the family's favorite colors/schemes.
Milagros' room had a new bed, but little else. It now looks like a cozy hotel room!
Dad Manuel and son Elwin share this room which, again had a couple of used mattresses. Fast forward to the end of the day, two brand new beds with comfy comforters and pillows.
The bathroom and kitchen were brightened up. The kitchen was fully stocked with pots, pans, silverware, a toaster, blender and everything the family will need to prepare meals to share.
At the end the day, Lorena and Manuel's extended family arrived! They were wearing Covid-era masks but you could tell they were smiling.
They were ecstatic about their "new" home. Elwin loved his train-themed comforter and brand new bed. While our volunteers couldn't stay long, they enjoyed seeing the family return. After taking a few pictures they said good-bye and left the family to enjoy their home. When we spoke to Lorena a couple of days later, she kept saying how happy everyone in the family was: how the small and adult children were thrilled with their rooms and how everyone was so happy to finally have a real living and dining room where they could be together comfortably. We lost count of how may times she said "Thank You."
Single Dad, Federico and his daughter, Liana (11) were able to move into their new home with the help of Homeward Bound. Federico suffered a brain injury a few years ago, which left him with memory issues and occasional seizures. As a result, he is on disability and unable to work. Fortunately, his mother lives close by and is able to come over and help regularly. Also, thanks to Homeward Bound, the family has an excellent group of support services to assist with many aspects of the pair's daily needs. Federico's biggest wish was that we might provide Liana with a "girlie-colored room."
The little family's entire apartment was basically empty, with only a couple of blow-up beds and a TV. They were using plastic plates, forks and knives for their meals. Now they have an inviting dining room with a cool sideboard/mirror, houseplant, artwork and a complete dining set. Of course, the kitchen is now fully stocked. A generous donor bought entire set of brand new plates for both families. Another bought brand new toasters for both families. Others contributed a silverware set, blenders, pots and pans and all the basics to prepare and enjoy meals at home.
Their empty living room was transformed into a cozy place to chill and enjoy "movie night!"
You can see in the first photo why dad wanted to surprise Liana with a special bedroom. A wonderful family donated an entire almost-new matching bedroom set for Liana, complete with shiny pink drawer pulls. That, plus the colorful new bed linens, definitely provide his daughter with that 'girlie' bedroom he was hoping for!
Liana is not the only one who's room had a big transformation. Check out this very handsomely styled room for dad. "Wow," I really like it." He said when he saw it.
Summer may be winding up but we're expecting a few more hot days for awhile. This newly furnished second story patio will provide some cool evenings and nice views.
Federico chose his "new" sofa for his Welcoming Home photo. He arrived and was so very pleased with the make-over their apartment received. "I really appreciate what you all do," he said.
Liana was away for the weekend but Francisco promised to take a picture of her in her new room when she returned. And here she is, having a breakfast bagel in bed :) Francisco is a man of a few words, but under the picture he sent us, he wrote "She really loves her room. Thank you so much."
We, too, are at a loss for the right words to express our appreciation to this amazingly generous and caring Marin community who makes this all happen. Hopefully these pictures give you some sense of the happiness and peace you have brought to these families through your donations. You can be sure that they will never forget this day.
With much gratitude,
The Welcoming Home Team