When 7-year-old Maria began arriving late to the Boys & Girls Club of Garden Grove, hungry and with her hair undone, her Club supervisor Suzie immediately knew something was wrong. During drop-off one morning, Suzie saw that the family's truck was filled with their belongings. It only took a moment with Maria's father to see his exhaustion and anxiety.
"We've been living in our car for a month," he explained. "From time to time, I have enough money for a motel room. Do you know if anybody is renting a room?"
Maria’s dad worked in construction but recently lost his job. Because of inconsistent employment and income, the family moved from a room they had been renting to a garage. Without notice, the garage was condemned and torn down. Maria and her family had been living in her dad’s truck ever since as he searched for consistent work.
Boys & Girls Clubs are anchors of their communities — a safe, inclusive place kids and families can count on. Often, that means thinking outside the box (or the Club) to ensure kids and caregivers have what they need. For Suzie, the next step was clear: how do we get Maria’s family a place to live and more support during this time of transition?
She immediately began making calls. Club staff and community members collected money, gift cards, food and personal hygiene supplies. ARCHES (Access to Resources for Children's Health, Education, and Support), part of the Club's Community Health Services division, was able to help the family find temporary housing for up to a year while Maria’s dad works to get back on his feet.
Today, this Club family now has a place to call home. Maria’s dad has time to find consistent employment while Maria can safely participate in school and receive daily meals at the Club. Their family has a chance for a fresh start — an opportunity to write a new story.
"When we were living in the car, everyone used to fight a lot," Maria’s dad recalls. "The kids would always ask me, 'why are we living like this?' I explained that things like this sometimes happen in life. But I told them they had to continue studying and keeping up with school, regardless of what we are going through. The Club and ARCHES have changed my children's lives. I can see how happy they are now."
Help More Kids Have Great Futures
Kids can't control their circumstances, but Boys & Girls Clubs of America can offer them a safe place, meals, mentors and meaningful life experiences to see them through difficult times. With your support, more children like Maria can reach their full potential, no matter what — because every child deserves to have a great future. Donate today.
This article was originally posted on 3/12/2021.