When Project Renewal first decided to present a gift basket to each of the families in our new En Casa program this Thanksgiving, it would have been easy enough to simply run to the supermarket to fill them up. Instead, we got in touch with our friends at Shelly’s Prime Meats, in Jersey, who were all too happy to provide turkeys. Next it was our neighbors, the Little Red School House near Bleecker Street, whose high school seniors agreed to each “adopt” one of the 11 families in our program, by providing the rest of the groceries in our gift baskets and a game or toy for each of their children.
It was they who suggested having their elementary students create custom holiday greeting cards for each family as well. This lead us to a interactive chat with them, beforehand, about who the people referred to as ‘the homeless’ really are.
The En Casa Program was created last year in response to the growing need to provide the housing, counseling and wrap around support necessary to help keep the families of formerly addicted or alcoholic parents together while they go through the recovery process. But at Project Renewal, we see every one thing we do as an opportunity to do something else at the same time; like spurring community partnerships, for one thing. Or, even more important, evoking next-generation empathy toward a population too often marginalized.
And you thought it was just a gift basket!