January, 2011January 2011
The lives of our residents would be very different without the efforts of our volunteers. In this issue you will read about a variety of ways volunteers contribute, from greeting visitors to serving as Santa's elves. The high quality of care provided by Samaritan House would not be possible without the compassion, dedication and imagination of our much-appreciated volunteers.
What could a 13-year-old do to help Samaritan House residents? A lot, it turns out. Carter Haber, son of Howard Haber and former board member Tricia Carter-Haber, interviewed several non-profits and chose Samaritan House as the beneficiary of the service project he completed as the mitzvah (good deeds) portion of his process of becoming a Bar Mitzvah (son of the commandment).
According to Jewish law, when a boy reaches the age of 13, he becomes responsible for his actions and is privileged to participate in all areas of Jewish community life. This transition is marked by a ceremony in which the boy conducts a worship service for his congregation and by the completion of a service project, since this is intended to be the time to begin to do good deeds.
When Carter met with Family Health and Education Coordinator Rick Isaminger to explore possibilities for a project, he learned that the agency still needed presents for its Angel Tree. AirRite Air Conditioning had agreed to donate presents for 20 children, but there were still 51 children without a sponsor. Not one to think small, Carter stepped right up and offered to find donors for all 51. Another two names were later added to the list. At a suggested level of $50 per child, that would mean raising over $2600. "I'll take care of them," he said. "Not everyone understands about AIDS and how hard it is for these kids."
Carter went about fulfilling his commitment with zeal and with a sincere desire to help children who otherwise would face a bleak holiday. Following his English teacher's advice, he approached potential donors face-to-face rather than by email. His results have been spectacular: over $5000 had been raised at press time, including a dollar-for-dollar match by Merrill Lynch, Tricia's employer, for donations made by its employees. The managers' group at Merrill Lynch also pooled the money they would ordinarily have spent on gifts for each other and donated the money to Carter's project.
Raising the money was only the start. Carter had chosen Samaritan House partly on the basis of the fact that the agency would supply him with wish lists made by each child and would allow him to choose the presents. Carter took this responsibility seriously, learning the names and wants of each child and going out of his way to get exactly what had been requested. After mammoth shopping expeditions to Old Navy (who supplied a bag for each child) and Toys Я Us (who opened an hour early to help Carter select toys and donated a $50 gift card), the Haber garage began to resemble a well-organized warehouse.
For the next step in the process, Carter used a $100 donation collected at a family gathering to buy wrapping paper. Every evening he brought the presents for ten of the children into the living room for wrapping, doing most of the work himself. When everything was complete, the Samaritan House van was dispatched to collect the 53 bags. On December 15, the Youngman Family Room became Santa Central, with Samaritan House parents picking up a bag of presents specifically tailored to each child's wishes.
For a volunteer project of this scope, an experienced adult would face considerable challenges. For a 13-year-old just embarking on a lifetime of doing "good deeds," it is a remarkable achievement. Carter's parents and Beth El Congregation have much to be proud of. Not only has Carter demonstrated considerable acumen as an organizer and fundraiser, he has also shown clearly that he understands the very personal nature of the way in which Samaritan House helps its residents recover their health and their lives. Compassion is hard to teach, but it's clear that Carter has learned that lesson and is well-equipped as a doer of good deeds.
Many of our volunteers were in the holiday spirit as they showed their support for Samaritan House by getting involved in different activities with the residents. Anyone attending these events can readily understand the importance of our volunteers' holiday involvement for our residents. This year, Samaritan House had the pleasure of working with Southside City Church and Alliance for Children to share in the spirit of the season.
12 Days of Christmas with Southside City Church
Many can remember the excitement of being a child and waiting for Christmas morning to see what Santa had dropped in their stocking overnight. Not all our residents were fortunate enough to have that kind of childhood; but for the third year in a row, Southside City Church stepped in with their 12 Days of Christmas celebration for the residents of the main house, allowing residents to experience the joy that comes with the holidays.
Twelve days before December 25th, church members hung stockings on the residents' doors in the main house, as many do above their fireplaces. While the residents slept each night, members of Southside City Church placed gifts in each of their stockings, giving them something to find when they woke each morning. In addition to filling the residents' stockings, the church collected wish lists from residents and provided a gift for each person.
The church group then ended the 12 Days of Christmas event by cooking a Christmas dinner for the residents. For those who were not able to spend holidays with family, this was a great way to remind residents of the family they have found at Samaritan House.
Christmas Celebration for Children of Samaritan House and Alliance for Children
It is perhaps easiest to see the glow of holiday cheer on the faces of young children, especially those who live at Samaritan House. To make sure these kids would not miss the fun of the holidays, Children's Charities of Fort Worth hosted a party at the Sheraton Hotel in Fort Worth, full of fun activities and music for the Samaritan House children. The Sheraton generously donated the use of the venue.
Hot chocolate is often synonymous with the holidays, and the Children's Charities party was no different. Starbucks donated hot chocolate for the children, and also brought coffee for the parents who were looking for a different option to keep them warm. Light sandwiches were also offered for any who may have wanted to snack on something during the festivities.
Santa himself was the guest of honor and was available for pictures with each child. After the children took pictures with Santa Claus, holiday music filled the room, with live performances by the L. D. Bell High School Choir and the Samaritan House Inspirational choir.
From the moment the homepage loads, you will notice a difference in the look of the Samaritan House website. After many months of hard work, SamaritanHouse.org now has a new layout and contemporary design. For those who remember the old website, this change will most likely be welcomed with open arms. The new website is easier to navigate and quicker to load, but these aren't the only things that have changed on the renovated site.
When you visit the new Samaritan House website, you are offered a quick look at what we offer as an organization, as well as multiple quick links to find exactly what you were looking for. For instance, with one click you can choose to visit the SamariTours page, where any person or organization can schedule to take a tour of Samaritan House and gain insight into the care and services provided to residents. Or you can support our mission by going directly to the donation or volunteer page.
Staying abreast of agency news is now one click away from the Samaritan House homepage, with headlines from the current newsletter scrolled along the top of the page. These headline links will change as each new issue of the newsletter is published, making the newsletter more accessible than it had been on the previous site.
Also on the homepage of the website are resident success stories (also changing periodically) which allow visitors to read about how Samaritan House has rescued, nurtured, and launched many of our residents. For those who wish to read further about the population we serve, the "Did You Know?" section of the website offers facts on how HIV/AIDS and homelessness affects the lives of those in our community.
And if you're savvy about social media, SamaritanHouse.org also offers a Facebook contact button, which you can use to become more connected to the everyday happenings at Samaritan House. Once you become a fan of Samaritan House on Facebook, you will be able to see the schedule of SamariTours for current and future months, read stories about Samaritan House and its residents, and access videos relating to our organization and mission.
With the updated look and new content of the Samaritan House web site, connecting with agency happenings is just one click away. Be sure to visit SamaritanHouse.org periodically to see what other exciting changes are happening for Samaritan House and our residents.
We are inspired every day by members of the North Texas community who come to Samaritan House and give of their time and energy to support residents' efforts to rebuild their lives. We also hear from volunteers that the time they spend with and for residents is inspiring for them. We hope that you will attend a SamariTour, our information tours held twice each month, to learn firsthand about volunteer opportunities that give you the chance to make a difference and have fun at the same time.