The weeknight streets are full, coffee shops are buzzing, and the radio stations are full of festive tunes. It’s a time of year YWCA Cambridge staff love: from their holiday themed window display to cookie decorating workshops, there’s no shortage of joy around here.
One of the main things that brings YWCA staff together across multiple programs and locations is their Festive Futures sponsorship program. Festive Futures is a holiday drive that both raises money and gifts for women who have been through our Small Steps to Success pre-employment program: women who have worked incredibly hard to overcome barriers such as chronic abuse, unemployment and underemployment. “The program is our chance to give back to these women who show great tenacity in achieving their goals, and a way for us to say thank you to them for trusting us with their stories,” said Kim Decker, YWCA Cambridge’s Executive Director. “It’s a way for us to support them at a time of year that we don’t realize is difficult for many women who have some very special accomplishments and milestones to celebrate.”
There are so many great sponsorship programs that make an impact in the lives of local families: but what sets Festive Futures apart from other impactful local programs is its hyper focus on the marginalized members of our community. “It was created about 5 years ago not just as a support for families, but single women as well. We saw that they were left out of other programs, as were their older teenage and adult children. You just don’t know what a difference it makes for families to ensure everyone can be equally supported.”
Just like each woman’s lists, the options for support through the program are various and customized. “We accommodate any kinds of requests, if you’re looking for a certain size of family or story. Donations are made by both local companies and individuals, and all contributions are welcome,” said Kim. Online donations are secure and simple: but, if you really want to go festive, you can request a Christmas list and do the shopping yourself. “What’s most humbling is the lists the women give. These aren’t extravagant gifts they ask for. Many times, they’re modest comfort items that we take for granted: socks, pajamas, deodorant… such simple things.” Kim talked about how she’s been to see such incredible generosity over the years. “One year, a little girl asked for a dollhouse, and we had someone deliver one that was four feet tall. It even had an elevator!”
It’s quite the sight to see around YWCA Cambridge headquarters the first few weeks of December. Donated gifts line the walls of their boardroom, and Christmas Co-ordinators are dashing out to make lunch time runs. Local community groups and volunteers get involved in wrapping the gifts and decorating the space to make sure pick up is merry and cheerful. “It’s important to help the women feel supported and celebrated, even during our discrete pick up,” Kim said. “We play Christmas music, serve hot chocolate and cookies, and have some great conversation.”
If you’re looking to make a lasting impact this holiday season, find out how you can support Festive Futures. Act fast: deadline to support is Friday, December 7th!