Stories From Families

There are so many families who find themselves in tough situations, each unique but all fundamentally the same: people need help to get past a certain set of obstacles that life has thrown at them.

Some of those needs have included:

  • Heat, electricity, and rent
  • Medical assistance to deal with terminal or life threatening illnesses
  • Providing children with winter clothing, food and Christmas presents
  • Food for elementary school children during the summer months
  • Temporary housing due to a variety of causes
  • Thanksgiving / Christmas Food & Gift Baskets

Read below for specific examples of the hundreds of ways that your donations have helped families in need.

A Family Struck by Cancer

A family with two children ages 16 and 13: Last year my husband was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer at age 45. He was out of work for well over a year and had several surgeries as well as chemotherapy and radiation. During the time he was out of work, we fell behind with all of their bills.

He is now back to work, but they just cannot seem to catch up. They were several months behind on their rent. “The landlord has been pretty patient up until now, but they called and gave me till Monday to come up with some money. I really don’t know what to do, so I am reaching out to your Foundation for help.”

The Foundation paid for 2 months’ rent and donated gift certificates to Stop & Shop for food and necessities.

A Family in a Shelter

A family of five (a mother with four children, ages 9, 8, 5 and 2) living in a shelter in Waltham, were in need of winter clothes and boots. The father has abandoned them and has offered no help.

The Foundation helped this family by providing gift cards for school clothes and supplies for all 4 children, then with additional gift cards for winter coats, boots and Christmas presents so they could enjoy the holidays.

A Mother & Daughter in Unsafe Conditions

This request came from a school psychologist in the Plymouth MA school system. We get many requests from school guidance counselors, nurses and psychologists since they interact with the children on a daily basis and see what is taking place in their lives.

“We have a family in need of some assistance, and I wanted to reach out to your organization to see if it is possibly something you could help us with. We have a mother and daughter in an unsafe living situation, and we would like to move them to a hotel from today until Friday (when she will get her permanent housing).

We have found availability at the Inn at Plymouth Bay for a reasonable cost but still something she cannot afford. If this is something you could quickly assist us with, please let me know. I can be reached at this email, or by phone, 508-xxx-xxxx. I thank you very much in advance for considering this, your organization is very impressive in the lives you are able to touch.”

The Foundation provided for the 3 night stay they needed to remove them from a potentially dangerous living environment.

A Mother of Three in Need of Help

We received a request on the Foundation Facebook page written by someone else asking us to provide some assistance for a woman: “She is a good person who works extremely hard and many, many hours cleaning houses and would never ask for help.”

After talking to her and much coaxing we got the full story. Her husband left her and her 3 children. Her name was not on the lease so she had to move to her father’s house with the kids. She was trying to work extra hours because now she had additional bills from lawyers. She had fallen behind on her and her Dad’s electric bill while paying all the other bills to live with him and trying to get her life back on track.

The Foundation paid the electric company to cover the amount owed and give her a bit of a cushion going forward.

A Struggling Cancer Patient

One of our Board members received this request by phone: “A man with stage 4 lung cancer lives at a local motel and rents rooms by the month. He has been there “forever.” The place is filthy and run down with no maintenance but is all many of these people can afford. The small bedrooms have no kitchen facilities, just a microwave if they are lucky.”

“He is taken care of by a lifelong friend who takes him to chemotherapy, radiation, and tries to provide food. These people are beyond poor but their pride makes them very concerned with trying to give the landlord some rent as she has been more than kind to let it go. The facility is not government subsidized or section 8 housing. These people just needed some relief.”

The Foundation talked to the landlord and agree to pay the past due rent while they pursued some other options.

Help with Insurance Premiums

A patient advocate was looking for assistance for a patient who had lost his insurance coverage while he was in active and aggressive chemotherapy treatment: “He has been out of work on medical leave for over a year with no income or disability benefits.”

“We were wondering if your Foundation helps patients with insurance premiums for COBRA. He has already sent a check in for this month but now has minimal funds left to cover his living expenses. He is hoping to be able to go back to work by May. I was able to help him apply for state coverage last week and we’re hoping I can get him approved and enrolled by April 1.”

The Foundation assisted with several months of Cobra payments and gift certificates for food and necessities.

A Family in Need of College Tuition

This request came in from our Facebook page for a family that we knew because when her husband was sick a while back, the Foundation paid for a stair lift for him: His diagnosis at that time for brain cancer was 6-12 months. He passed in 3 weeks.

It has now been 3 years and with no life insurance, they have just finally paid off the funeral expenses and are behind on most bills. The mom, who we talked to, is very proud and is only asking for help for her daughter. Her daughter had a scholarship offer from a college but when they found out that she had received social security payments up to the age of 18 after her dad’s death, they rescinded the offer.

They were going to appeal the financial aid decision but would not have it completed in time for the daughter to go enroll. Her younger daughter works at Stop & Shop and brings home food instead of a paycheck, and the mom is now working as a nanny full-time.

While the Foundation cannot commit to scholarships we did agree to give her a one-time payment to get her through the first year and a gift card to help with the books and supplies she will need for her first year while the financial aid situation is being worked out.

A Father & Children in Need

From our contact at Family Continuity Services in Plymouth we received this message:

“I have a family in desperate need of help. A single dad with two children, age 12 and age 14. The mother died many years ago. Literally every time I see this family, the children are in the same clothes. They also have little food in the home, as the dad does not believe in welfare or food stamps. Dad works at seasonal jobs, driving trucks and doing boiler-making work.

However I know that they would welcome and help that you could give, In fact, I was just talking with the son the other day about the fact that he gets bullied at school and he just said very matter of fact that “well it’s because I wear the same clothes all the time. What can you do? I’m not going to fight back and get suspended.” Now the father’s car is broken beyond repair and he has trouble getting to work. He has been borrowing his neighbor’s car when possible but that can’t last.

The Foundation was initially able to help the family with gift cards for clothes, food and gas.

Then something even better happened:

One of our Board members who is in the car business and has many connections talked to one of his customers about the Baker family situation. His customer who is a longtime supporter of the Foundation said he had a van that he would like to donate to the family. While it was older, it ran well, it was all ready for inspection, and was all waxed for use. He even went one step further and filled the van with groceries, clothes and other necessities for the family. While he chose to remain anonymous, he did remind us that there are many people out there who are willing to help keep Jonathan’s spirit of helping others alive.

Medication Co-Pay for a Cancer Patient

From a Patient Advocate: “I have a chemotherapy patient who needs help and is struggling with cost of her Lovenox injections. She does not qualify for extra help with Medicare or for Mass Health and her Social Security income is inadequate to cover the costs. I am trying to get her relief with Medicare premiums through the state but not sure how long that will take. We have been giving her samples for some time now. She is now taking a lower dose twice a day because we don’t have her regular dose. At this time she cannot even afford to pick up a partial supply.”

“Her co-pay at Stop & Shop pharmacy for 30 day supply is high and I believe Medicare told her the cost should go down after she gets this first supply. My thought was maybe if the Foundation could provide her gift cards to Stop & Shop even just so she can pick up her prescription next week before the end of the year. I believe she may get help from the state or Medicare in January but I am not certain if and how soon that will may happen. Please let me know your thoughts when you have a chance.

The Foundation paid the pharmacy for several months of her much needed medicine.

Clothes & Shoes for Children in Need

From a Social Worker: “My client’s mother is a single mom with four children, living in a hotel in Wareham (shelter housing). The father of three of her children has disappeared and is not making his required support payments, which are the sole source of income for the family.

Recently, her car had major problems and she was without transportation for an extended period of time. The car is now back on the road, but for how much longer is anyone’s guess. The family could use any and all support, whether large or small. We have already arranged for back to school supplies for the three school age children, but they will also need clothes and footwear, etc. Would the Rizzo Foundation be able to help?”

The Foundation gave them gift cards for school clothes and shoes for all four children.

Making a Prom Dream Come True

A therapist with Family Continuity Counseling in Plymouth who heard about the Foundation from a response to an agency wide appeal she sent out over the weekend sent us this request: “I have a young client who was planning on going to her prom this weekend, May 29. Due to her many issues and family issues, this is a huge accomplishment for her to make these plans and follow through. She was able to find a lovely dress at the Thrift shop and had purchased the ticket ($80) a few weeks ago. Her mom told me on Friday when I was at the house that they had run out of money.

What this means immediately is that my beautiful young client who has been struggling so much cannot afford to buy prom shoes or get her hair done. As you know, it is so important that these kids feel good about how they look so they can feel they fit in.

I realize this is last minute and there is not much time for you to consider this request. I would appreciate any help the Foundation could give to this young girl. She has had a tough year, does not feel she has much to get out of bed for and this weekend could be a happy time.

The Foundation gave her a gift that would allow her to get what she needed and enjoy her prom.

Burdened by Medical Bills

This request is from a family with two children who were going through an unbelievable 4 year journey with their daughter that involved many misdiagnoses, surgeries, diabetes and other visits with specialists that had exhausted their financial resources, the details of which are too lengthy to describe here.

When we contacted the Mom, she said she felt guilty asking for help from us, and has asked her Aunt for a small loan. She has offered to volunteer for us and even asked if any of us needed shoveling! She is a very gracious lady.

The Foundation could not clean their slate of financial issues but we were able to pay off some of the back bills and provide some discretionary cash to buy necessities for the family.