"It changed our lives in a way that we couldn't have imagined," Suzanne Farrell says of the Statesman Season for Caring program.

"It gave us hope," her husband, Tim Farrell, says. "We started to see a future we wouldn't have realized without it. We took it as a miracle and as a blessing. We started to move forward and do our lives."

The Farrells, including daughter Aubrey, were part of the 2012 Statesman Season for Caring program.

Each year, Season for Caring highlights the needs of 12 featured families who have been nominated by local nonprofit organizations. This year, we launch our 20th Season for Caring.

The 2018 families' needs are immense: from moving out of cramped, run-down recreational vehicles; to an education toward a better job; to medical care; to a working vehicle; to being able to maneuver a wheelchair through too-narrow hallways; to accessing a shower.

We ask you to read their stories, look at the families' wish lists and give.

Each year, hundreds of families are helped by Season for Caring funds through our nonprofit partner organizations, which use monetary donations for basic needs such as rent, utilities, transportation, medication and groceries for the families they serve.

The featured families' needs are taken care of first, often through donations of goods and services from local businesses, community organizations, families and individuals.

Since 1999, the program has raised $11.6 million for local nonprofit organizations to help the Central Texas families they serve.

As we launch the 20th Season for Caring, we asked some of the families we featured in previous years to tell us how this program made a difference to them and continues to help them.

Tim Farrell and Aubrey, have Marfan syndrome, which affects the heart and the body's connective tissue. At the time they became part of Season for Caring, Tim Farrell's health was declining.

The family had used Aubrey's college fund, credit cards and loans from family members to pay medical bills. They had put the dream of owning a home on hold.

Season for Caring donations allowed them to pay down their debt and buy a home. It helped Tim Farrell start a better job at Progressive insurance; Suzanne Farrell is now teaching cosmetology at Crockett High School. It repaid Aubrey's college fund.

Tim Farrell's health has improved, but Aubrey, who is in 10th grade, has had more health struggles, having major spinal surgeries recently. They are on solid footing financially, though.

"I didn't realize how impactful it would be to where we are today," Suzanne Farrell says.

Eight years ago, Curtis Dorrell was living in a red pickup parked in a Lowe's parking lot. That was where his Hospice Austin nurse would visit him to help him with end-stage heart disease.

Season for Caring was able to help move him from the truck to a motel and then to a donated recreational vehicle. His health improved, and, at one point, he was even taken off hospice care. He died in 2016, but he lived his last years with a roof over his head.

"Emotionally, it gave him a little hope again," says his mother, CJ Sides. "He realized there were good people willing to help him."

Xylia and John Gomez had two toddlers of their own when, suddenly, four children from a family member came to live with them in a one-bedroom apartment in 2010. They cobbled together mattresses and clothing from thrift stores and garage sales to make it work. Xylia Gomez says they were having difficulty with just basic needs.

Through the 2010 Season for Caring, they moved into a bigger duplex with a washer and dryer and a backyard. Each of the kids had new beds to sleep on and their own space.

"It made life feel normal for us," she says.

Today, the family is doing great. They ended up adopting the two oldest kids and had another two children of their own. The oldest child was the first in that birth family to graduate from high school, she says.

"It's important for people to hear these stories," Xylia Gomez says. "It's important for them to see, hey, it made a difference, because it did. If we hadn't gotten help that year, we would have been in a different place."

Saif Al Zuwaydee and his family came to the United States in 2011 after he served as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Iraq. They had nothing.

"It gave me a foundation," he says of the 2012 Season for Caring program. "What's most important for people who come from overseas? The first thing they look for is a foundation. Everything we own is nothing ... we own nothing."

Season for Caring filled their home with furniture and clothed their children.

Now, the Al Zuwaydee family lives in Cedar Park in a house they own. He'll graduate from college in May as a network administration specialist.

"I'm close pretty much to the American dream," he says.

Families chosen for Season for Caring don't decide to be featured as part of the program solely because of the help they will receive. They know that the donations will help many other families who also work with their agency.

Brenda Conley-Batts says it was a hard decision in 2014 to be featured in the program. "To be honest, it was a little embarrassing to open your life to the whole world," she says. "But to know that people cared enough to help, that was important; that was a nice thing."

Conley-Batts is blind, had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was receiving hospice care. Season for Caring donations helped pay for more hours with an in-home care attendant. Recently, she's been in remission.

Often, Season for Caring families are at the lowest point in their lives. In 2016, Jacob Rodriguez-Lopez had just lost his wife, Adriana, to cancer, and he was raising his 4-year-old daughter, Emely, who had Down syndrome. Then Emely was diagnosed with leukemia that December and died in January 2017.

Austinites stepped up. They made him part of their family. He still talks with some of them.

"I received so many blessings from them," he says. "It was really good for me in my life."

Rodriguez-Lopez moved to Alabama to be closer to family. He remarried, and they have a son, Jacob, who is now 4 months old. Jacob reminds him of Emely every day, he says: "I see my daughter in his face, every time he smiles."

Season for Caring in 2014 gave Jodene Krumholt "faith in the world," she says.

Her husband, Roger, had died in September 2014 as a result of injuries from a bicycle accident. Her son Tyler, then 12, was struggling with his dad's death.

She knew after Roger's death that she needed a job and benefits. Season for Caring connected her with a job in a dentist's office. She then was able to go back to school to become a medical assistant.

"That job was a huge step in the right direction," she says. "I feel like we are on the right path."

Even though, she says, she can get jaded at times, that feeling of love and hope from Season for Caring, "it stuck with me."

Season for Caring, she says, was "this outpouring of love and generosity, and they don't even know who you are."

Today, we are asking for that same outpouring of love and generosity for 12 new featured families.

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