Stamford organization donates to Giving Fund
STAMFORD — Bill Brucker was thrilled Monday to receive an envelope with $4,000, because he knew it would go to families in need, just in time for Christmas.
“This is going to make a difference in the lives of eight families who could use the help, especially now during the holidays,” Brucker said to employees at the Stamford office of Spencer Stuart, which raised the money. “It’s perfect timing a week before Christmas and it’s really going to put a smile on the faces of these families.”
The Giving Fund — a joint venture of the Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time and the local nonprofits Family Centers and Person-to-Person — is in its 35th year of helping the community. Every Thursday and Sunday through the holidays, about 10 short stories are published about local families and individuals in need of a helping hand from more neighbors.
About 75 cases have been published so far this holiday season.
Each story included the dollar amount needed to help the featured person or family as they face everyday challenges such as paying for rent, child care and household expenses. Every dollar donated to the Giving Fund goes directly to the person in need.
Brucker, the vice president of Family Centers, said donations are lagging this year.
The Giving Fund has raised $14,000 so far this season, a far cry from the $83,000 raised in a previous year. There have been several years when every submitted case was completely fulfilled. So far, only about 15 of the published 75 cases have been fulfilled this year.
“I’m not quite sure exactly why,” Brucker said about why donations have been decreasing in recent years. “It could be that there’s a lot going on around the holidays and there’s a lot of holiday-giving type of drives and maybe there’s an element of donor fatigue, which contributes to it.”
Spencer Stuart employees chose the Giving Fund as one of two recipients of fundraising for the holiday season.
“We presented it to the office and they embraced it wholeheartedly and far exceeded our expectations. It’s just been tremendous,” said Sally LaJoie, executive assistant at the firm who suggested donating to the Giving Fund.
She said the personal stories from the Giving Fund really encouraged her and the organization to contribute.
“It’s kind of heart-wrenching and heartwarming at the same time to read about them, and they’re people in our own community and we thought what better way than to reach out to our own,” LaJoie said.
George Jamison, who manages the Stamford office, said he read some of the Giving Fund stories during Spencer Stuart’s holiday party and some employees immediately agreed to contribute.
“One of our consultants said, ‘I’ll fund that’ ... So I read another one and another table said, ‘We’ll take that,’” he said.
Donations to The Giving Fund are accepted until the end of January. Donations can be made online at stamfordadvocate.com/givingfund and greenwichtime.com/givingfund.
“What I think makes the Giving Fund so special as it compares to other holiday-giving type drives is that the money raised through the Giving Fund is for basic living necessities,” Brucker said. “While its heartwarming to provide a toy for a kid who might not be able to have something under the tree for Christmas, this is the kind of gift that gives all year long.”
Spencer Stuart funded these cases:
Case 300: Cara had to leave her job in business to become a full-time caretaker for her mother with advanced stage Alzheimer’s. Cara started working part time as a teacher’s aide to help pay her bills. She fell in love with the job but cannot afford the certification training that she needs to continue. A gift of $500 would help Cara be able to afford her certification so she can have a career that brings her joy while also being able to take care of her mother.
Case 301: Melissa is 21 years old and the first member of her family to go to college. She is a senior at UConn and will be graduating in May. In addition to being a full-time student, Melissa works over 20 hours a week to pay her bills and still finds time to volunteer as a peer mentor in the community. A gift of $350 would help Melissa afford her college textbooks for her final semester.
Case 306: Edgar, 35, immigrated from Guatemala for a better life seven years ago. He worked very hard for the last five years at a restaurant in Stamford as a cook/helper, but last year his life took a drastic turn when he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a rare form of cancer, in his left eye. This situation created a chain of events that changed his life. Edgar lost his apartment and became homeless. He is receiving assistance with food and clothes to help meet his basic needs, and some friends allow him to sleep on their couch. Edgar is in the process of receiving cancer treatment from Stamford Hospital, but he cannot do so unless he has a place to live. A grant of $500 will help Edgar secure a room so he can be at peace, during this time in his life. He will continue to work with Stamford Hospital Cancer Center for his future medical needs.
Case 307: Briana lost her son to bone cancer and could not bear the thought of living in the same house anymore. She continues to grieve with her two other children. She is attending the Den for Grieving Kids, which works with families and which seems to be helping a little. However, her daughter continues to struggle with the loss. She is taking classes to become a beautician and does not want to drop out because being around others helps her cope with the pain. Briana would like to make a change for her family. Most of her income goes toward her household expenses, and she has nothing left for a move. She has Section 8 and needs a total of $2,411 to move in, but has only $1,411. A grant of $1,000 will help Briana secure a new place for her family, cope with the loss, and keep her son’s memory in her heart.
Case 322: Johana is the mother of a 4-year-old boy and lost her second infant to serious medical issues. The family incurred major medical expenses due to the intensive prenatal care and delivery and are still in debt for this heartbreaking experience. They are consistently one month behind in covering the cost of their basic needs (rent, electricity, gas, car insurance). Her husband is working and studying to get his GED. Johana is taking ESL classes and looking for a job. A gift of $500 would greatly assist the family with the medical bills, rent, food and their son’s expenses.
Case 329: Nancy unexpectedly lost her husband this past September. She has three young children whom she is trying to support but it is hard without her husband’s income. She is working hard to find better employment to continue to provide for her family, but the absence of her husband will be felt this holiday season. A gift of $500 would help this family through the holiday season.