For Family Promise coordinated entry case manager Kathleen Wright, the stories of all of the families who come seeking assistance will always be with her.
But most recently it was one of a father and his daughter.
As a single parent, the man had fallen ill to the point where he could no longer work. Monthly child support from his daughter's mother was not enough to make ends meet. While he had applied for Social Security, the application and money wouldn't be processed soon enough to keep the small family up-to-date on their bills.
But through Family Promise, Neediest Cases funding was able to cover a month of their rent.
"Nobody always knows when something's going to cause them to not be able to pay their bills," Wright said. "Anybody can be in that situation so funding for Neediest Cases is very important."
That's just one of many stories that have stuck with Wright in her three years working with Family Promise, a nonprofit organization that helps address housing concerns, among other needs, for families with children in the Chattanooga area.
And amid the holiday season, she is grateful for all who donate to help those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in unfortunate situations.
The man is one of many each year the organization provides with a one-time donation from the Neediest Cases Fund, fueled annually by readers of the Chattanooga Times Free Press during the holiday season.
"I like the way they do it around the holidays to get everyone's attention and to show the need that is out there," Wright said. "But there are so many homes with so many people struggling right now, and [COVID-19] only made it worse."
On a day-to-day basis, Family Promise works to find shelter for homeless families, provides rental support for those facing missed payments or evictions and works with local organizations and churches to provide for those in need whether it be a warm meal or a place to sleep.
Other Ways to Donate
Note: Under the CARES Act, taxpayers who don't itemize deductions may take a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made in 2020 to charitable organizations.
Send the following information and a check to United Way of Greater Chattanooga. Please note that the donation is for Neediest Cases and mail to United Way, 630 Market St., Chattanooga, TN 37402.
Enclosed is a donation for $
Donor Acknowledgement options:
In honor of:
In memory of:
All donations will be acknowledged by mail and in the newspaper. Please state if you do not want us to publish a name in the list of contributors. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 31.
"Without agencies like Family Promise or United Way, people who are in desperate need would just give up. I mean it would be so overwhelming when your back is against the wall, and you have no other place to turn," she said. "I think [receiving a donation from the Neediest Cases Fund is] just one of the greatest feelings in the world that these people may have because they may have given up hope."
The local Neediest Cases Fund is managed by the United Way of Greater Chattanooga and distributed to people in need who are referred by partner agencies, such as Family Promise.
Recipients are typically required to be employed or have some form of income to receive help from the fund, which fulfills basic needs such as housing, utilities and food for those who need one-time help to become self-sufficient.
Last year, readers donated $46,569.86 to the annual fund, a significant increase over the 2018 total of $41,827.70. So far, donations for 2020 are ahead of totals from the same time in 2019.
Donations to Neediest Cases will be accepted through Dec. 31.
Read more stories about 2020 fund recipients at timesfreepress.com/neediest-cases.
Contact Tierra Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.