Donna faced enormous challenges when she decided to raise her deceased sister’s children in addition to her own. A single mom who had just launched her own catering business, she had unlimited determination and love but limited resources.

“I know what it’s like to feel rejected. I know what it’s like to not have what I need, you know?” Donna shared. “I didn’t want my nephews and nieces to feel that way. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I didn’t have any money saved. But it doesn’t matter what you have in your hand. It’s what’s in your heart.”

With her positive attitude and wide smile, Donna brought her sister’s four young children into her family, which instantly doubled in size. In addition to dealing with her own grief and the children’s grief, she worried about paying bills and rent, and making sure the kids had clothes for school and enough food to eat. It was difficult, she admits, but she never doubted her decision.

Donna had never heard of Stable Families when a counselor at Windsor STEM Academy connected her to Ms. Kim, a Stable Families coordinator. Stable Families, a United Way program to prevent family homelessness and keep children from changing schools, works with families to address and resolve the issues that push them to the brink of homelessness.  For Donna and her kids, it was exactly what they needed during a critical period of upheaval.

Stable Families and Ms. Kim helped Donna with utilities and connected her to a number of resources including the Furniture Bank, another United Way partner. The Furniture Bank provided the family with dressers and beds for the children. Ms. Kim also provided valuable emotional support that let Donna know she was not alone.

“To have somebody follow up with you, to help you be accountable, somebody to check on you and somebody that cares,” said Donna, “that’s really important.”

With the support she received from Stable Families and the Furniture Bank, Donna was able to focus on providing consistency and care for her family. Today, her business is growing, and her children have the stability they need to succeed in school and life. 


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