Gifts as a Message of Worth

February 3, 2020

Lani and Jason

Lani, a single mother, lives with her two sons, Mark, 22, and Jason, 16, and provides informal home hospice care for her terminally-ill brother, Paul. Both sons struggle with substance abuse, depression and anxiety as well as making progress academically or maintaining a job. Jason made poor choices that led him to court and the family was referred to Family Tree Community Family Resource Team (CFRT) due to concerns of child neglect of Jason.

With Paul unable to work and both kids to take care of, Lani is responsible for everything – earning money to support the family of four, taking care of their home and handling the logistics, transportation and medical care for the other three. Lani herself struggled with considerable depression and anxiety as well as severe, debilitating physical pain and disability. Furthermore, Lani works full-time at a community mental health center, interfacing with patients to coordinate their scheduling and care needs.

Family Tree CFRT team members worked with Lani and her family to re-establish appropriate parental authority, improve communication, address each person’s pain, loss and trauma, develop routines around self- and home-care and chart a path forward with ongoing services of therapy and school-based support.

Throughout their work with Family Tree CFRT, Lani, Mark and Jason frequently questioned their sense of self-worth, and by seeing that genuine support is in fact available, they were able to make progress.

When Lani and her family became aware of Family Tree Holidays of Hope, they were quite grateful and appreciative, yet also had some reservations. Lani expressed how difficult it already feels to know her family is struggling and that she is not able to provide holiday gifts. Lani shared how deeply she wanted to be able to purchase the gifts that would make her family happy. She voiced how going to the store herself, picking out the gifts, carting them home (on the bus), wrapping and then hiding the gifts was a pleasure she truly saw as out of reach. Sharing the holidays is an intimate experience for a family, and Lani, a natural caretaker, was craving the opportunity to provide in this way, even if she needed some help to be able to do so.

Thanks to our generous and understanding donors, Family Tree CFRT was able to connect donors’ expressions of holiday giving, in the form of gift cards, with this family. Lani was more than appreciative. She expressed how she felt more capable, more of a “real parent,” because she was able to select, wrap and give the gifts herself. Lani shared how she felt like she was seen as a capable, yet struggling parent. One who is trusted to take these cards and provide the best holiday gifts, meals and overall experience for her family.

Facing all these issues head on, even with the amazing Family Tree CFRT team, is no small feat, and to be able to pause and enjoy the holidays as a family is a gift itself. Lani has always been a capable parent, but providing holiday assistance in the form of gift cards also provided a message of Lani’s worth, capability and trustworthiness as a parent. These gifts were received before any tangible presents were bought.