The holidays have come and gone, but it's never too late to highlight the generosity of others.
Thanks to holiday drives at Double Eagle Elementary School and the second-grade classrooms of Manzano Day School, the local nonprofit Saranam received over $2,400 worth of supplies.
"It's really special to see kids giving to other kids and having the opportunity to let them know that there are other kids their age in our city who are homeless and really struggling. And they have hearts big enough to tell their parents, 'Hey I really need to take something in to give away.' And the families come through," Saranam Executive Director Tracy Weaver said.
Saranam is a nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless families through housing, education and supportive communities. The group brings in a class of families for a two-year program and houses them in an apartment complex. Saranam then registers not only kids for school, but parents as well. Parents take GED and life skills classes to aid their future.
"We're really just trying to stabilize the families [ and deal] with the barriers that led them to homelessness and poverty in the first place," Weaver said.
Life skills include lessons about budgeting, parenting, job skills and communication.
Parents then move on to post-secondary education at schools such as CNM, Pima Medical Institute and UNM. "We're really ending poverty through education and community," Weaver said.
She explained that community is "woven" through everything Saranam does. "There's research that shows that social capital... is really important in maintaining success and I think we saw how difficult it was when we were all isolated through covid. People matter. Our networks with people matter. We put community into everything we do," Weaver said.
It's through this sense of community that Weaver believes families in the Saranam program can set goals, meet them and move out on their own.
Saranam works towards self-sufficiency for families; And according to the group, they have a 88% stability rate. Meaning, those who have exited Saranam's program, are still housed and leading stable lives.
The elementary schools donated items such as gift cards, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and other personal items, but with a touch of personal flair. Weaver said that the students of Manzano Day School decorated care bags for the families with personal messages to other kids.
"And Double Eagle, they just filled the vehicles a couple of times over, they were just so generous," Weaver said.
According to Weaver, the donations from the schools are equivalent to about 6 months of supplies for Saranam families.
On top of personal care items, the students of the schools also donated hand-me-down books. Weaver explained that literacy is important to the organization.
"We really appreciate all of the people who give to us, because that really just shows families the care and support that they have while they are with us. But, when kids do it, it's kind of a different level. We are practicing philanthropy at a different level when we are getting kids to bring in gifts for other kids," Weaver said.
Saranam is currently housing people on the eastside of Albuquerque, but is working on opening another apartment complex on the westside by late 2023 to early 2024.
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