Making Holiday Wishes Come True
Like many children, my earliest memories of the winter holidays include a decorated tree, big family meals and gift exchanges. As far back as I can remember, my family also had a tradition of participating in programs to provide gifts for families in need. I remember being very little and being taught that not all families could afford Christmas gifts for their children, so we were going to buy some for them so they could have a good Christmas too.
Now, 30 years later, as the holidays roll around and we make our gift lists, my family’s list includes Doorways’ Holiday Wishes. When I graduated from college and got my first job, I was looking for a holiday program and came across Doorways. At the time, I didn’t know much about the underlying mission of Doorways, I just knew what I had been taught, that some families couldn’t afford gifts for their children and that I should help out. Since then, I’ve participated in both the Holiday Wishes and Back-to-School programs for Doorways and I’m pleased to say that it is a family affair in our household. We enjoy participating in these programs because the items we purchase go directly to Doorways’ clients. It makes giving very real and personal. It has also provided an opportunity for my husband and me to teach my stepdaughter (and soon our younger daughter, too) about domestic violence and those who are struggling in a way she can understand.
I remember when we first started doing Holiday Wishes as a family. My stepdaughter, then in elementary school, wanted to know how the gifts were going to get to the people who needed them — because she didn’t think there were people in our neighborhood going through these struggles. When we told her that the families Doorways serves are right here in Arlington and that some of the kids may be at her school (and maybe even in her class) she was truly shocked!
I read recently that the most important thing as a parent is to have your home be a place that your children associate with happiness and love — and a place where your children know they will always be safe and cared for. This is the type of home that my husband and I seek to provide for our family and I am pleased to support Doorways as the organization works to help others create these types of happy and safe homes for their children.
—Alicia Knight, Doorways’ supporter
Teach a Person to Fish, Feed Them for a Lifetime
I am currently a stay-at-home mom raising two small children while my husband, Suni, works for an investment firm in Arlington. We have been in the area for about 10 years and have really enjoyed getting to know Arlington and DC. Plus, it’s a good halfway point between our two families, making the grandparents happy!
I found out about Doorways about four-five years ago when I was looking for a volunteer opportunity closer to my new apartment in Arlington. I came across Doorways, went through the intensive, eye-opening volunteer training and immediately began helping out with children at the Family Home and organizing the storage room. While I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to volunteering in most recent years, my husband and I continue to be enthusiastic supporters of Doorways’ mission and most especially the clients’ successes, through our financial contributions.
I think the real spark for our giving began when I met families while I was volunteering. This gave me firsthand experiences to see how Doorways truly cares about healing and helping the whole person thrive – from emergency shelter and mental and physical health services to financial education. They truly have a compassionate, comprehensive approach which really works. And this meshes beautifully with our personal philosophy. We are big believers in the idea that “Giving a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.” Doorways really embodies this value for us. And while they might initially provide “fish” when people first arrive at Doorways, they also ensure families and individuals have the tools they need to stand on their own to live stable, safe and empowered lives.
I cannot say enough about how important Doorways is to me, Suni, my children and our community. Arlington is such a young, busy and well-off place that we don’t always realize or remember there are families and people in our midst who are struggling with homelessness or domestic violence. It’s really important to us that those voices and people don’t get lost or overlooked. And lastly, Suni and I believe that our support of Doorways is our way to give back and to illustrate how thankful we are for what we have.
—Kristin Thakor, Doorways’ supporter