We had an unusual inquiry from a good friend of UrbanPromise: Capital One.
Instead of spending money on a fancy venue for their employee volunteer celebration, the planning team wanted to find five families to whom they could give $1,000 each “to make a difference in our community.”
“Can you provide five families we can help?”
Of course $1,000 would help any family, and we know hundreds of families who are in great need. It wasn’t hard to say yes, but it was hard to choose only five. The five families selected were alerted by our staff to expect a call from Capital One and to be sure to take it.
At the event for 400 Capital One employees, we all listened to a recording of their interactions.
Ms. Smith (4 children in our program): “I’ve been nervous all day. I’m like ‘What do I owe you people?’!” This brought a burst of laughter from the Capital One crowd. I’m sure they’ve had a few of those calls to make over the years. The Capital One representative shared about their partnership with UrbanPromise, when Ms. Smith, still with no idea she was going to receive $1,000, jumped in to say, “I love, love UrbanPromise. They are the best thing that could have happened to my family!” I’m so glad she said that with all her heart before she knew. When she found out she was receiving $1,000 she, like all the recipients, was incredulous. “Are you kidding!? That is crazy amazing!”
Ms. Jones (3 children involved): “Oh my god!”, she said clearly in tears when they told her. “I’m at work crying right now! I don’t know what to say. Oh my god.” The man and woman who called from Capitol One told me they found it to be an emotional experience. When I listened I understood why. Many in the audience got choked up, including me! Of course the gift was amazing and surprising. But you could hear in their voice the burden they were carrying being lifted. It was unexpected hope.
Ms. Clark (4 children involved): “Are you serious?! Oh my god!” and she let out a long scream, followed by a moment of silence, and a doubt, “Are you playin’ with me?” Was it too good to be true?
I happened to be with Ms. Clark’s 15-year old daughter Daja that day. I asked her, “What did you see when your Mom learned of the $1,000?”
“She was happy. She’s been so discouraged for so long. For the first time in a long time she was happy.” Daja’s face radiated relief. Her Mom had hope, and it was giving the whole family hope.
The final parent, Ms. Taylor, just had her son join our StreetLeader® job training program. The StreetLeader Director, Aaron Orr, had just met at their home.
“As I visited with the family I could not forget how she mentioned how tough Christmas was going to be this year. It really burdened me that she was in need. I hear these struggles from a lot of families, but in this case I feel like God poured out His compassion to me and the burden was especially heavy. It didn’t help that I knew I had nothing to give her. I remember praying for them and feeling pretty helpless. I had no idea how God was working behind the scenes, nor could I have even imagined it!”
All the Moms’ were shocked and overjoyed. But Ms. Taylor had the heaviest sense of burden of all. The exact sense that Aaron felt at their house.
“Oh my…” her voice broke, “I didn’t know what I was going to do for my kids and grandchildren. I’m going through a lot. I get up early every day to do odd jobs. I’m knocking down tile, pulling up carpet, scrubbing floors and toilets. Thank you!” – then she broke down. Ms. Taylor so deserves help. God was working behind the scenes to bring hope. But He was also partnering with people. People like these faithful Mom’s, dedicated staff, and a compassionate partner like Capital One.
The next day Ms. Clark, Daja’s Mom, came to our office to thank us.
“I am so, so, so thankful,” her heart radiating the happiness that I’d seen in Daja’s face. “I couldn’t face Christmas. But now I don’t have to make an excuse to my family ‘bout why this is gonna to be another bad Christmas. I am so thankful!” Mom had hope and her family felt it.
Capital One’s gift to our families was an act of grace. The long relationship and trust these families have built with us is an act of grace to us from them. My staff’s commitment is an act of grace. Grace brings hope. Hope brings life and a future.
Christmas is about Grace. Jesus was God’s gift of grace. He brings hope and life. And as the Mom’s experienced, He uses partners like you.
Friend, your gifts to support our work are an act of grace. The depth of hope experienced by these Mom’s, the easing of their burden, and the life it gives their families was possible because your gifts allow our staff to bring hope. I’d like to ask you to partner with our families and staff, perhaps like Capital One, repurposing some resources to go from good to grace.
$500 will employ Ms. Taylor’s son as a StreetLeader (and bring some income to their family!). $1,000 will mirror Capital One and keep our staff on the door step of these struggling families. $50 will pay for Daja’s tuition at our high school. $250 will pay for their breakfast at our schools for a month. $120 will support an intern to do home visits. Any gift you choose we will receive as grace and hope.
On behalf of our families and staff, thank you and Merry Christmas.