I’m originally from Michigan, northern suburbs of Detroit. I have lived in Louisville since 1992. My husband, Dick, and I have five adult children combined (second marriage). I am a retired RN and I also worked in the admissions and business office at an independent school for many years (15 years, crazy). For the better part of the past 10 years, I worked with high school students at Northeast Christian Church (NECC). Now, I am trying to sort out what the next part of life holds and looks like.
I first heard about SPARC Hope, formerly Mom’s Closet, through NECC about 10 years ago. It was Christmas time, volunteers were needed to buy gifts for the kids at SPARC Hope to help the parents make the holidays a little happier for their families. They were snapped up quickly and it made me think about the needs that single parents and kids have all year long, not just in December. Celebrating birthdays was the first thing that came to mind. I knew how hard it was being a working mom and trying to plan celebrations for kids with all of the craziness of daily life. I was tossing the idea around with my husband and he suggested putting party supplies in a backpack/bag for each child. I contacted SPARC Hope and told them of my idea. I thought pulling together things to make a birthday celebration easier for the moms and their kids would be helpful. Each backpack contained a cake mix and frosting, pan, candles, age appropriate plates and napkins, and a gift card. Over the years, I have continued to put together these birthday bags. The past few years I have expanded it for the parents as well; just a little something for them to feel loved and celebrated. It’s something I look forward to doing every year.
When the pandemic hit, I saw the pantry needs list and thought it was something I could help with. We were all stuck at home and it is easy to take for granted all of the things we have in our pantries to make dinner or something simple, like cookies. I tried to fill some of the specific needs on the list and then add some of the things I like having at home, like chocolate chips or vanilla. It has been fun knowing that something like pantry supplies can make a big difference for a family. I know our UPS and FedEx drivers secretly dislike me for the many orders they deliver to our house.
I help SPARC Hope with things behind the scenes. I do not expect to meet the parents or their kids, yet I know that those little things have helped make life a little easier for these parents while they are working, going to school, and raising a family. They are all working to get to a different place in life, to be independent, while teaching their kids to do the same.
I’m sure Staci has told you the story of K and K. Such a crazy story. Last December, I saw the wish list of gifts for the parents and kids. I randomly selected 6-7 gifts over several days, nothing in order on the list, just stuff I liked. I emailed Staci and asked if I could get some details so I could get the right colors, patterns, etc. Little did I know that all but one of the gifts I chose were for K and K!
One of the items was a phone case for a teenage boy. Staci mentions that he runs track. I asked a few more questions, what school, what events, etc. I told Staci that a good family friend of ours is a professional track athlete with Nike. Ronnie had grown up living near Central HS and graduated from Ballard HS and Texas Christian University. Ronnie is the oldest of three kids, they were raised by a single mom. I asked if it would be OK for Ronnie to write K. Long story short, they developed a relationship through letters and text messaging and were able to meet when he was home for the holidays. As far as I know, they are still in touch.
Even crazier than that, long before I ever knew of K and K, last fall I signed up to sponsor a backpack for one of the kids. I didn’t think anything more about it until a very delayed thank you note came to me just a few months ago thanking me for providing the money to get school supplies for her son. The note had been sent to our old address, it was written in September 2019. I didn’t know about them until late November. The note was written by K!
Staci and I were so shocked, happy, surprised to see this story unfold. There really is no way to make any sense of it except to know that God had a hand in all of it. I was so fortunate to get to meet K a few months ago when I was dropping off supplies, she was picking up her groceries. We did a virtual hug.
I think it is important to give back to help others in our community. SPARC Hope works to give a hand up to these parents and ultimately their families. Helping families now trickles down for them to help others in their lives. Everyone wins when families are healthier and stronger.
Please consider SPARC Hope on Give for Good Louisville, September 17th and visit https://www.sparc-hope.org/give-for-good-louisville/ for ways you can be apart of making a difference.