Ann lives alone with just her cat for company. She struggles with her health, a painful past and stigma. I see Ann a few times a week. We’re in the same building. Her apartment is on the 9th floor. My office is on the 11th.
One day last month, while riding the elevator together, Ann mentioned that she is already planning her Christmas dinner – “turkey, stuffing, potatoes usually mashed, gravy, homemade bread. Dessert may be an apple pie or perhaps a yule log this year.” She invites all her neighbours, “If I know someone doesn’t have a meal at Christmas or if they feel down, I invite them as well.”
I’m humbled. Christmas is a hard time for Ann. Growing up, Christmas was when her father tried “to beat the hell out of me” one year and “my family disowned me the next year – that was their gift,” she tells me quietly.
Ann knows how difficult Christmas can be without family, so she tries to bring some yuletide cheer to her neighbours and friends. It’s going on five years now and Ann still makes a special meal for her neighbours. “It all depends on money” she explains. “The first couple of years I went out and bought all the ingredients – it cost me $100, but that was my gift to my neighbours. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I can get a free turkey from Honest Ed’s turkey drive or from food donations people bring to Homes First”.
In a few weeks Ann’s neighbours will share in a feast they look forward to all year. Ann can look forward to Christmas, despite all the painful memories, because she has a home. Because you helped.
With a home Christmas can be the joyful time it’s meant to be. Could you make a special holiday donation today for Ann and the hundreds of residents who count on Homes First? Because you can’t do much without a home and there are so many more people who need one.
PS Don’t forget to tell us what home means to you by completing the sentence “With a home I can….” Your response, plus those of our residents, will help us build an awareness campaign in 2015. Email firstname.lastname@example.org