Sunday Friends has been providing a working alternative to charity for low income San Jose families for about 20 years. Its a great place for volunteers to come work with the families (kids and adults) and be part of a program that is make a real difference. The programs are very well organized and a dedicated set of core volunteers and staff keep it smooth. Independent studies have also shown that the model of "earning" rather than handouts is really working in this program.
For volunteers, the program has provided a very satisfying and enriching experience.
Sunday Friends provides the support environment for low income families to become self-sufficient rather than being dependent on charity from the community. Adults get awarded with tickets while they learn to manage financials of their family, be better parents and contribute to the community. Children get awarded with tickets while they participate in educational programs (reading, games, cooking and music) as well as contribute back to the community. Families work together to meet their needs and use their tickets to purchase basic life necessities from the store that donors donate to. This frees the families to use their limited cash for other life necessities such as rent, insurance, etc. This is truly a unique program.
Sunday Friends works with over 900 families in need in San Jose, California. These are the families who demonstrate program after program that they prefer to earn what they need and to give back to their community rather than to receive mere handouts. The parents care deeply that their children experience the satisfaction of giving; they don't want them to self-identify as charity cases. They want their children's lives to be different from their own on-going struggle for day-to-day survival.
It is a joy to help the families who are working so hard to help themselves. That is why I have volunteered with Sunday Friends for the past 14 years. Janis