Darceil still sobs when she thinks back five years to when she divorced, lost her home, had no food for her children and no place to go. She began working two jobs, found a place to live and was struggling to care for her son and elderly mother. Then the call came from her mother. Darceil’s daughter had dropped off her 1-year-old toddler and wasn’t coming back. “I cried and was depressed for the first month. How was I going to work? How was I going to be able to take care of the baby?
But then, Darceil, 55, said a miracle happened. She turned to the Legal Aid Society for help getting Medicaid for the baby, but an attorney there recognized that Darceil needed much more and referred her to Families First’s Kin Support Project. A Family Service Coordinator assessed Darceil’s most immediate needs – medical care, clothing, diapers, food, financial assistance, and child care– and guided her to resources to take care of those needs. Then she worked with Darceil on her longer-term needs – the emotional ones that were keeping her desperate and depressed, especially since Darceil was also caring for her elderly mother and a teen-age son. Because English is not Darceil’s first language, Marcela Perez, the family service coordinator, helped Darceil fill out paperwork to get services she needed. She also ensured that she had access to food pantries, clothing closets, and got free school supplies for her granddaughter.
In the four years since her granddaughter, now 5, came to live with her, Darceil said, Families First Kin Support Project created miracles for her and her extended family. “They gave me confidence to do things for myself. She (Marcela Perez, the family service coordinator) made me into a strong woman. When you have confidence in yourself, you can do anything,” said Darceil through happy tears.