Bring Hope Home Rent assistance program

What Do Family Giving Tree, Books, and the Pandemic Have in Common? The Book Ladies.

(3 min. read)

Imagine the cupboards are empty, and although you don't have to pay rent this month or the next, there's no money coming in to spend in the future. Then, imagine that you're not eligible for official financial help and support from the government.

While these imaginings may be foreign to many of us, countless families in the Bay Area don't have to wonder about this scenario because they are living it. Thousands of families, with little-to-no work and nowhere to turn for help, are vital contributors to our economy and their community. For these overlooked and undervalued households–kept from working but told to survive–the future looks bleak indeed.

Enter the Book Ladies. "Book Ladies" is an affectionate term we use at Family Giving Tree to refer to a small group of wise and wonderful women who love and support the work we do. A few years ago, they created and led a fundraising drive to place age-appropriate reading books in the backpacks we give out every August. But that's not all. These community-minded colleagues have effectively launched fundraising efforts to address other vital needs they see in their communities. They work in higher education and politics and use their connections and savvy to make life a little better for those who need it most. In short, the book ladies are creatively-minded women who care deeply about the less fortunate.

So, the idea? A family-match program to help undocumented residents in our communities stay in their homes while we all shelter in place. Rents have been forgiven, for the time being, but rent will come due, and other expenses haven't stopped. How do you support a family with absolutely nothing? We all know you can't, but the book ladies knew there was a way to help.

For 30 years, Family Giving Tree has been connecting donors directly to those who need help. Beginning in 1990 with it's first Holiday Wish Drive, FGT has been sharing wishes for a single holiday gift with those who could grant that wish. And then, starting in 1996, through the Back-to-School Drive, we started doing the same for children in grades K-12 from low-income families. These kids just wanted (and needed) to be like the other kids at school and start the school year with a new backpack filled with wonderfully fresh and vital school supplies.

Over the years, we have established strong partnerships with agencies and developed valuable tools to get wishes and school supplies into the hands of children who need them. The book ladies knew we did it well. Having connected over 1.8 million children, seniors, and adults in need with donors who could help, they were right!

In early April, our philanthropic friends came to us with an idea. Why not set up a donation portal that would easily allow donors to support a family with rent assistance plus a little extra to get through this challenging time? After much planning and the fantastic support of our volunteer site development team, Bring Hope Home was born.

Anyone can now help a family (or two, or three) in four areas: East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, East San Jose, and San Francisco. But even better, they can support a family in-need that resonates with them. It could be Maria's family in Palo Alto with nine family members, including Grandma, or Blanca's family, with four kids trying to live in San Francisco on reduced income due to a reduction in their work hours. Either way, each family has a need that is varied and personal.

Bring Hope Home helps make a connection between the larger communities and those around the corner who are suffering. Its goal is to make getting through this pandemic truly a group effort with neighbor helping neighbor and the 'haves' uplifting the 'have nots.'

At Family Giving Tree, bringing hope to families is what we strive to do every day. We are pleased to work with the Book Ladies to spread the (incredible) wealth of the Bay Area and help those who need it most. We all want to look forward to a brighter future, a robust economy, and the return to a safe, secure society.

For more information, visit covid19.fgt.org