Making Real Friends

Rose & WaltThis week marks the 1 year anniversary of the fully revised version of my book, FriendRaising.

To honor that event, I’ll be sharing stories from the book all this week. I hope these stories inspire you to get out there and engage friends for the causes you believe in!

Please note: The stories from FriendRaising – all about Dimitri and my building the first-ever community-wide diaper bank – have been re-posted here. Sorry for the inconvenience!

4 Responses to Making Real Friends

  1. Inna Kushnirchuk found Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS)’ Parent Education program eight years ago when her first son was born. Her husband and her has recently moved to the area from the Ukraine and needed some extra help raising a child for the first time.
    Being home with a sick 14-month-old daughter has been really difficult for the Kushnirchuk family. Their daughter had heart surgery two months ago and Inna has been home with her to care for her full time. Because of this, Inna and her husband are relying on her husband’s single income to support their three young children. Before their daughter got sick, Inna was working for a large chain store and was able to buy diapers and clothing for their children with her income.
    Inna attends Parent Education classes at SFBFS’ North Sacramento location, the Saca Community Learning Center. She enjoys attending classes and being able to receive free parenting supplies like clothing and diapers for her children. Her favorite class is Special Nutrition for Infants, learning a variety of dietary needs for babies as well as helping them meet daily vitamin intake.
    While on her journey to self-sufficiency and financial independence a few people have helped their family along the way. Inna credits Parent Education Program Managers as always giving her confidence to succeed in her classes. “They call me and tell me all the upcoming classes. I feel like they want me to do well and improve my family.”
    Because Inna is from the Ukraine, she speaks fluent Russian and is able to translate classes, orientations and more as a help to the Parent Education program. Inna goes out of her way to invite families she knows into the program and has referred a large number of other mothers and fathers. “To see a client do that is really uplifting,” says Gabriela Lopez, Parent Education Program Manager. “Inna uses her experience to cheer people on through their journey to self-sufficiency and financial independence.”
    In the future, once Inna’s children have become more independent, she would like to go back to work at as an administrative assistant in an office. She also wants to become a volunteer at SFBFS and lend a hand to more families in similar situations to her. “I want to help. Different people have different problems and I want to help.”

  2. Parent Education program – Gabriela Enriquez

    A wife and mother of three, 30 year old Gabriela Enriquez was trying to find a balance between providing for her family, working part-time and managing a medical condition.
    Gabriela was born in Mexico and moved to the United States when she was nine to stay with her father’s family in Los Angeles. Once in the United States, Gabriela would eventually complete her schooling and move further north to Sacramento to begin a family at the age of 20. With her husband and young children, Gabriela was soon overwhelmed by her daily obligations.
    During her first pregnancy, Gabriela developed gestational diabetes, a condition which typically resolves itself shortly after the child is born. However, Gabriela would not be so fortunate. Her glucose levels continued to remain at a high level after the birth of her first child. While maintaining a job at Payless Shoes, raising her children, keeping up her house, securing childcare and battling fatigue from her condition, Gabriela began to feel as if there simply were not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything.
    Not able to work as often as before, Gabriela and her husband’s financial situation started to become quite complicated towards the end of her third pregnancy. Noticing Gabriela’s struggle to make ends meet, her sister-in-law told her about the Parent Education program at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). Eager for support, Gabriela decided to look into the program.
    Making a trip to SFBFS’ Oak Park location, Gabriela was originally enticed by the Baby Boutique where she could pick up diapers, formula and clothing for her newborn. Learning more about the program, Gabriela soon discovered it also offered a variety of classes spanning a variety of parenting topics and referrals for other parent resources in Sacramento.
    “This program is a blessing for my family,” Gabriela said. “It’s helped me learn so much as a parent; how to eat and cook healthier, recognizing that my children all have different needs and how to be patient with each one, how to budget my time and it’s gotten me involved with other mothers.”
    “Gabriela is one of the women I see as a role model for other mothers in the program,” said Lorena Carranza, Parent Education Program Manager at SFBFS. “She attends a variety of classes, loves to participate and she always helps out new mothers in the program.”
    Noticing that she was an exceptional Parent Education student, Lorena recruited Gabriela to assist with translating Parent Education classes taught in English for Spanish speaking students in the program.