MEET OUR FAMILIES
"On the Sunday that passed, was a good Sunday because when I was making quesadillas I felt good about myself. That what I like about Sundays."
— Sunday Friends Child
Sunday friends provides programs for families in need in San Jose
These families are on the economic fringe, either struggling to avoid homelessness or formerly homeless.
More than half of our families are immigrants struggling to learn the English language and to integrate into mainstream American culture.
The children often struggle in school because of 1) lack of English language skills, 2) interrupted schooling due to housing instability and 3) the inability of their parents to help with their schoolwork.
Both the children and their parents eagerly respond to opportunities to give back to their community with the help of volunteers.
The families we serve are exceptionally motivated to improve their lives, choosing to earn basic necessities rather than accept handouts.
Joseph holds a full-time minimum wage job as a janitor. In fact, he has worked as a janitor for twelve years. Although he has been a reliable and flawlessly honest employee, he has never earned enough money to house and feed himself and six children.
Meet Joseph and his family
The family has lived in a variety of homeless shelters throughout the past seven years. The children adore their father and continually care for (and cling to) each other. Joseph is a warm and attentive father who can tell you what homework assignments each of his children have and when they are due.
Joseph's oldest child, Shantia, consistently makes straight A's in school, even though she has had to change schools often. She has managed to maintain her grades even during the periods when the family was sleeping in an old car in a shopping center parking lot. Shantia only cries when she is denied the opportunity to attend school.
Joseph and his family have been attending Sunday Friends programs for six years. Joseph earns tickets by loading, unloading and cleaning during the program. His children earn tickets by writing letters, making and serving food, contributing to collaborative art projects and playing educational games. They all use a portion of their tickets to purchase school supplies, diapers for the baby and other basic necessities for the family. We at Sunday Friends regularly encourage the children to spend at least some of their tickets on toys.
Over the years, we've observed Joseph's children grow in confidence and self-expression. The older children write letters that explore their likes and dislikes, their feelings and their futures. The younger children are increasingly willing to engage in art and cooking activities without their older siblings glued to their sides. They are growing to trust people outside of their tight-knit family and to enjoy participating and learning. Because these children have attended literally hundreds of Sunday programs, they now know deep inside that they have (and will always have) the ability to learn, to succeed and to earn what they need and want.