year 2, week 1: this week i'm gonna... help people get back on their feet
“[My husband] got into legal trouble, went to court and they locked him up. So, here I am with these two kids … I had nothing.”
Caroline's life was suddenly turned upside down, so she went to the Beverly Bootstraps Food Pantry to get help with feeding her family. She was stressed out and hopeless: “The woman [at the food pantry] asked my name, and I just started crying,” she states.
Thankfully, the food pantry worker was able to offer more than just a meal, and she connected Caroline with a case worker. The Bootstraps food pantry manager explains their unique approach to hunger: “We are able to connect people through the root cause. [For Caroline], food was a challenge, but there were other issues causing stress.” She needed additional help.
A case manager for Bootstraps states, “People come in and we go over everything to see if there are other services they could use. If they’re coming to us for one need, we make sure that they’re able to take advantage of the other services we have.”
For Caroline, these additional services were the key. “[The case worker] sent me to the thrift shop, got beds for [the kids] and signed them up for summer camp,” she states. “I went from being so stressed to thinking, ‘I can do this.' I never would have made it through without Bootstraps. They’re so caring and compassionate, and they want to see you get out of whatever situation you’re in … they really went above and beyond.”
The Bootstraps food pantry manager says it best: “Everyone has the same heart here [at Bootstraps]. We love helping people and we love the human spirit.”
Beverly Bootstraps was first established in 1992 as a food pantry in the basement of a local Beverly, MA church, and has grown to be a leading social service agency on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Their mission is to provide critical resources to families and individuals so they may achieve self-sufficiency.
Beverly Bootstraps offers emergency and long-term assistance, including: access to food, housing stability, adult and youth education, counseling, and advocacy. Their four main service categories are:
- CLIENT SUPPORT: provides an array of services to help individuals and families maintain their current housing and to provide access to clothing and goods
- ADULT EDUCATION: provides accessible, practical courses to help clients expand their skills, employment opportunities, and increase their wages
- YOUTH & FAMILY: provides mentoring, academic and literacy support, an on-site library, school supplies, opportunities for summer camp, and a holiday gift program for families
- TAX PREPARATION: helps participants apply for applicable tax credits through their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) outreach program
You can learn more about Beverly Bootstraps in the video below.
Although Beverly Bootstraps began as a food pantry, the agency recognized almost immediately that people need more than food in hand -- people also need the opportunity to be embraced by the community, educated about the resources available, and empowered to improve their own lives.
Elizabeth and her family are another one of the thousands of families who have benefited from Bootstraps' array of support services. She and her husband have four children, ages eight, seven, five and three. Renee, their 4th child, was struggling in school.
Elizabeth met Zoe Harris, Beverly Bootstraps’ youth coordinator, and learned about their after-school homework club. The club, which is geared toward 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and meets three times a week, incorporates a healthy snack, homework help, and a half hour of play at the end of the session.
“It’s like a reward,” Harris says of the play time that’s allotted. “[The kids] really couldn’t function without it. They need it for mental health, plus it helps improve their social skills.”
The program has been a perfect fit for Renee, Elizabeth's 3rd grade daughter. Renee entered the program struggling with math and reading. Homework time was very stressful for her, and she had regular meltdowns. In just a few months, Renee has made significant improvements in both subjects.
“It’s been such a blessing,” Elizabeth states. “She’s been able to focus a lot more. Even her teacher has noticed the difference.” Best of all, Renee enjoys doing homework now. It is no longer a stress on the whole family, and they are all extremely grateful for the help that Bootstraps has provided.
Notes for this week:
- Happy New Year and new beginnings! Thank you to Beverly Bootstraps for helping people make a fresh start.
- Our collective givetwig donation will stock the Bootstraps food pantry with milk for over 2 weeks and will help approximately 300 families.
- For more information regarding Beverly Bootstraps, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to Beverly Bootstraps.